Kampala, Uganda, Dec 16 – Ugandan popstar turned opposition lawmaker Bobi Wine is in hiding after police raided a hotel he was staying in ahead of a concert, his lawyer said Sunday.
Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, had been due to perform at a concert in Jinja, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the capital Kampala, on Saturday night.
However he, and his lawyer, said police had launched a raid on his hotel, forcing him into hiding.
Kyagulanyi “has been forced to seek refuge from an unlawful midnight raid by police which has seen many of his supporters and colleagues swept up and detained while others were reportedly beaten,” said a statement from his London-based lawyer Robert Amsterdam.
Kyagulanyi took to Twitter on Saturday night to say police had arrested some of his team.
“So police has raided city hotel where we were resting ahead of the show tonight, arrested many of our team members. As we speak, the police is surrounding the entire neighborhood looking for me!” he wrote.
“They have beaten some of them, arrested & dragged them onto police pick-up cars and driven them to unknown destinations for no offence whatsoever.”
Amsterdam called the raid “a clear and brazen act of targeted political repression by the Uganda authorities aimed at violating Bobi Wine’s human rights” and said the concert was “fully and legally permitted, and the other participating musicians were not targeted.”
– Performances banned –
Kyagulanyi is among the most prominent critics of Uganda’s longtime President Yoweri Museveni and authorities have repeatedly blocked him from performing publically.
Last month, a concert was allowed to go ahead only after Kyagulanyi agreed with the police that it would be a non-political event.
Many of Kyagulanyi’s songs address issues of social justice and he has called for Museveni, who has been in power for 32 years, to retire.
Kyagulanyi was charged with treason in August, along with more than 30 opposition politicians, over the alleged stoning of Museveni’s convoy after a campaign rally in the north-western town of Arua.
During the campaign, Kyagulanyi’s driver was shot dead when soldiers from the elite presidential guard raided the hotel in which he was staying.
The singer has also accused the security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody and later received medical treatment in the US for the injuries he said he received. The authorities have denied the allegations.
Ugandan police have not released a statement on the event, and could not be reached for comment.