Every day that Bobi Wine sets out on the campaign trail in his bid to unseat Uganda’s authoritarian president, Yoweri Museveni, his 5-year-old daughter, Suubi Nakaayi, asks him to make a promise: that he will come home alive.
“And I always make that promise, not knowing whether or not I will fulfill it,” said Wine, the 38-year-old pop star-turned-politician.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been arrested several times, and took to wearing a bulletproof vest in his final campaign rallies before the election, which got underway Thursday. Polls close at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) and results are expected within 48 hours.
Wine said on Twitter that his home was raided early Tuesday and that several members of his security team were arrested. Kampala police spokesman Patrick Onyango denied that any arrests had been made, telling Reuters: “We were just rearranging our security posture in the area near his home, specifically removing some checkpoints.”
Social media sites were taken offline across Uganda Wednesday, including Facebook and Twitter, according to the independent internet freedom monitoring group NetBlocks.
Dozens of Wine’s supporters have been killed by Uganda’s security forces, human rights groups and opposition activists say. While it has confirmed a number of injuries and deaths at several demonstrations, the Uganda Police Force did not respond to questions about Wine’s allegations that security forces were responsible for some of the deaths.
Wine, who was raised as one of 34 siblings in a Kampala slum before his socially conscious lyrics lifted him to fame as one of east Africa’s most popular singers, is determined to challenge Museveni, who is standing on a platform of security and economic growth.
Museveni, who has enjoyed the support of successive U.S. administrations as a stabilizing force in east Africa, has been in power since 1986. He is part of an aging circle of liberation fighters who toppled the infamous dictator Idi Amin.
Museveni, 76, rules over one of the world’s youngest countries — the median age is just 16, and 80 percent of the population is under 35.
Wine has positioned himself as the champion of those young people who, like him, cannot remember life under any leader other than Museveni.
Source: NBC News