Heavy security has been deployed in Uganda’s Kampala city ahead of the trial of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyaguli Ssentamu, a celebrated musician-turned-politician, popularly known by his stage name Bobi Wine.
Wine, who has been in detention for about a week, was expected to appear in the General Court Martial on Thursday, August 23, to face treason charges.
Heavily armed Uganda People’s Defense Forces and police were deployed to Kampala to cordon off the city in anticipation of possible fresh round of chaos that have in the past few days been witnessed across the country.
According to Uganda’s Daily Monitor, senior security chiefs arrived in the city on Thursday morning and were expected to hold a meeting before the trial.
He will be represented by an international law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP.
The independent lawmaker, who was first presented in court on August 16, faces charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, even though he was originally arrested on claims of obstructing the motorcade of President Yoweri Museveni during campaigns in Arua Municipality.
Lawyer Robert Amsterdam, the founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, described his client’s arrest as a “politically motivated act of repression” and alleges that he has been tortured in custody.
“Mr Kyagulanyi’s arrest was not only a politically motivated act of repression, but furthermore he has since been subjected to inhuman and horrific acts of torture by the Ugandan security services from which it is possible he may never recover,” he said in a statement.
“This outrageous and reprehensible act of state aggression— an episode not seen since the days of Idi Amin— requires a robust and broad response from the international community to secure his safety and to bring his torturers to account.”
He has been held since last week, along with four fellow MPs and dozens of others.
On Wednesday, Uganda Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya visited Mr Kyagulanyi at the Makindye Military Barracks and confirmed the MP’s poor state of health.
“I talked with Hon Kyagulanyi but he is in a lot of pain. He is however in a uniquely humorous mood and we were laughing with him,” Oulanyah is quoted as saying.
In a eight-second clip circulated widely on social media, Kyagulanyi is seen in a red shirt and pair of shorts with slippers sitting around a plastic table laughing but with apparent difficulty.
Mr Amsterdam is recommending that the US should “hit [government] officials in their wallets with a Magnitsky-style sanctions schedule as they need to understand the consequences of this attack on human rights”.
“The situation for Mr Kyagulanyi is profoundly grave, immediate, and deserving of urgent action and intervention,” said Mr Amsterdam.
“When a state behaves with this level of impunity and violence, there are few statements or resolutions that will stop them from the murder of an innocent opponent like Bobi Wine.”