With or without me, change is coming to Uganda – Bobi Wine

Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine

Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has told a US audience that peaceful change of power with or without him is inevitable in Uganda.

Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has for the last two weeks been in the USA undergoing specialised medical care following his arrest and beating by soldiers ahead of the Arua municipality by-election last month.

While answering questions from Ronnie Mayanja, a US-based Ugandan journalist, during a meeting with other Ugandans at Embassy Suites, Waltham on Sunday, Bobi Wine also denied being sponsored by foreigners.

The People Power political wind supported by majority of Ugandans is not a Bobi Wine project. I only happen to be one of the oppressed,” he said.

“Provided that we are united, with or without me, peaceful change is inevitable in our country. We cannot go for guns, because we know the problems the people who used them have caused.”

He said though he is afraid of the reception he might receive from the Kampala authorities when he returns, he is ready for anything because “Uganda is my motherland”.

“Of course I’m worried, but Uganda is my home; that’s where my family is. That’s where all my people are. I’m worried but 44 million Ugandans are also worried,” he said.

However, a government spokesperson, while responding to Bobi Wine’s remarks, told journalists on Monday that the government has no problem with his coming back.

Bobi Wine has addressed press conferences broadcast on international outlets BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN. He was hosted on Voice of America’s Straight Talk Africa programme last week and also attended a panel discussion at George Washington University on Monday.

On September 11, police and army officers stormed the venue of a meeting in Kamwokya, Kampala intended to organise welcome ceremonies upon the return of Bobi Wine. They confiscated materials and arrested one of the organisers.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the meeting was illegal. International media have recently reported that Bobi Wine’s lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, is courting US leader Donald Trump’s government to cut off its funding to Uganda, particularly to its defence budget.

He reportedly told a press conference in Washington DC, that the Trump administration could no longer afford to facilitate the unending brutality being meted out on Ugandans by their leaders.

For decades, US government has been training Uganda’s military and providing logistical and financial support in the fight against terrorism.

“We call upon the US to immediately suspend military funding to Uganda and launch an investigation into the use of military equipment to torture Ugandans; time is now for the Americans’ voice to be heard and heard loudly,” said the lawyer who was recently refused entry into Uganda.

Uganda government and the UPDF vehemently deny these allegations. Kyagulanyi told international reporters that during his incarceration, he and some of his co-accused were grossly abused.

“There is a person whose back was broken; there was a lady who had just given birth through C-section and was beaten badly. I am sad that the world will never know about them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the European Union Parliament last week issued a warning to the Ugandan government over violation of human rights during and after the Arua municipality by-election.

In a 14-point resolution dated September 13, the EU parliament asked the executive to respect the independence of Parliament and drop “trumped-up charges” against Bobi Wine and other 33 suspects implicated in the Arua fracas.

In reply, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo on Monday told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre that no one can lecture the ruling NRM on human rights.

“Uganda does not need any lectures on human rights… The matters referred to in this resolution such as the threat to the security of the president while in Arua on August 15, the 33 people arrested in connection with this incident including the MPs and the regrettable loss of life of some of the people, are all under investigation by credible and competent arms of the state and overseen by an independent judicial system in Uganda,” Ofwono said.

In its resolution, the EU Parliament said it was deeply concerned by the arrest of opposition MPs, noting that it is vital for Ugandan democracy that President Museveni and his government respect parliament.

EU said MPs should be left to carry out their mandate and government should drop charges against Bob Wine. The parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga recently gave the executive one month to deliver a report on who tortured the MPs and other Ugandans.

Bobi Wine, three colleagues and 30 others are facing treason charges.