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Ugandan opposition leader and singer Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, addresses a news conference in Kampala, Uganda February 22, 2021. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

The Pop Star Politician Challenging Uganda’s Strongman in Tumultuous Election


Bobi Wine, formerly known as Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has embarked on a courageous journey from a pop star to a politician in Uganda. As the main opposition candidate challenging President Yoweri Museveni in the presidential election, Wine aims to bring about the first-ever peaceful transfer of power in modern Ugandan history. However, the road to the election has been marred by violence and protests, with Wine and his supporters facing periodic arrests.

In November, during a crackdown on protests after Wine’s detention, at least 54 people were killed. While Museveni attributed these deaths to “senseless riots,” Wine alleged that security forces were responsible for over 100 fatalities. The charismatic opposition leader has been seen wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet during campaign rallies, a stark reminder of the risks he faces.

During an interview with a Kenyan radio station, the Ugandan military raided Wine’s home. He reported that soldiers were beating his security guard, and the interview was abruptly cut short.

Ahead of the election, the government shut down social media platforms, accusing Facebook of bias. In response, Tibor Nagy, from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, expressed concern over the restrictions, citing their impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The election in Uganda has become a battleground for both political power and information manipulation. Facebook has recently removed government-linked accounts and pages engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior to influence public debate.

Bobi Wine’s journey as a political challenger is marked by bravery and resilience. As he continues to fight for a peaceful transfer of power, the world watches eagerly, hoping for a democratic and fair election process in Uganda.