Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine is freed on bail

Ugandan pop star and opposition figure Bobi Wine is freed on bail; was charged over protest

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Ugandan pop star and opposition figure Bobi Wine was freed on bail Thursday after spending three nights in a maximum-security prison.

The lawmaker, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, is charged with disobeying statutory authority. He faces trial over staging a street protest in July against a tax on social media.

Prosecutors opposed the bail application. A magistrate said the singer is forbidden from participating in illegal demonstrations as part of the bail conditions.

The singer appeared via video link from prison in an apparent move by authorities to prevent a public appearance. Security forces deployed heavily in parts of the capital, Kampala, where in recent days supporters erected barricades of smoking tires to protest Wine's latest detention.

Amnesty International called his arrest "a shameless attempt to silence dissent."

Robert Amsterdam, an attorney for Wine, said on Twitter that his client "continues to face a fabricated charge and ongoing persecution" by Uganda's security forces.

Wine, 37, faces separate treason charges related to an incident in which the presidential convoy was attacked by stone-throwers during a campaign event in August. His arrest at the time sparked protests and dozens of top international musicians, including Angelique Kidjo and Chris Martin, signed a letter demanding his release.

As the leader of a popular movement he calls "people power," Wine has emerged as an opponent to longtime President Yoweri Museveni, a U.S. ally on regional security who took power by force in 1986.

Wine has urged youth to challenge the leadership and has hinted he may run for the presidency in 2021.

Museveni accuses the singer of trying to incite young people into rioting. Police have repeatedly blocked Wine's concerts, saying they cannot guarantee security for all.

The singer won a seat in the national assembly in 2017 and his popularity grew when he opposed efforts to prolong Museveni's rule.

Museveni, who is 74, is able to seek re-election in 2021 after parliament passed legislation removing a clause in the constitution that had prevented anyone over 75 from holding the presidency.

Uganda has not witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1962.


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