Opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine), whose arrest and subsequent claim of torture has spurred large protests in Kampala, was permitted to leave Uganda for medical treatment in the US late on Friday, August 31. Wine had previously sought to leave the country on Thursday, August 30, but was reportedly blocked from boarding the plane and taken to a government hospital, prompting protests in Kampala on Friday. Police have since said he was prevented from leaving because his allegations of torture required that he undergo an examination by government doctors before he could leave the country. Wine's lawyer said that efforts are now underway to ensure that fellow opposition lawmaker Francis Zaake, who was also prevented from flying out of the country for medical treatment in India on Thursday, be permitted to leave.
Bobi Wine is expected to visit Boston (Massachusetts) and Washington (DC) while in the US. It is unclear when he is expected to return to Uganda. Although these developments indicate a likely decrease in public unrest in the immediate term, tensions surrounding the situation remain elevated and heavy security remains deployed throughout Kampala. Associated opposition protests in Kampala - particularly the Kampala suburb Kamwokya, where Wine was raised and owns several businesses - and other Ugandan cities remain possible in the coming days and weeks.
Bobi Wine, an opposition member of Uganda’s parliament and prominent musician, was arrested along with approximately 30 others on August 14 and charged with possession of illegal weapons after protesters threw stones at President Yoweri Museveni's convoy at a local election rally in Arua. Military prosecutors eventually dropped the illegal weapons charges against Wine, but a civilian court subsequently charged him with treason. Wine was released on bail on August 27. According to Wine's lawyer, he was severely beaten while in custody and other opposition leaders have been arrested or prevented from leaving their homes by police in recent weeks, sparking major tensions. Police clashed with demonstrators in several parts of Kampala on August 20, firing tear gas and live ammunition on protesters who had erected roadblocks to denounce the arrests.
Individuals in Uganda, particularly in Kampala, are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public.
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