House arrest: Uganda stops U.S. Ambassador from visiting Bobi Wine, says action ‘subversive’

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Uganda, on Tuesday, accused the United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown, of subversion for trying to visit the main opposition leader, Bobi Wine, who is under house arrest, at his residence.
Troops have prevented Wine, a pop star-turned-legislator and main challenger of incumbent president Yoweri Museveni in last Thursday’s presidential election from leaving his house shortly after he returned from voting.
Museveni, 76, who has been in power since 1986, was declared winner of the poll with 59 per cent of the vote against 35 per cent for Wine, who alleged election fraud, charges the government denies.
Wine became famous after years of singing about government corruption and nepotism.
While still under house arrest, Wine  on Tuesday said he and his wife had run out of food, and milk for her 18-month-old niece.
Earlier on Monday, the U.S. embassy said that Ambassador Brown had been stopped from visiting Wine, who it referred to by his real name, Robert Kyagulanyi, at his residence in a suburb in the northern outskirts of the capital.
The embassy said Brown wanted to check on his health and safety given that he was effectively unable to leave his home.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Brown had no business visiting Wine, who the army claims is being held to prevent potential unrest breaking out in the wake of the result.
“What she has been trying to do blatantly is to meddle in Uganda’s internal politics, particularly elections, to subvert our elections and the will of the people.
“She shouldn’t do anything outside the diplomatic norms,” Opondo said.
There was no immediate comment from Brown or the embassy on the accusation of subversion against the envoy by Uganda.
The public rebuke to the United States from the Ugandan government is relatively unusual as the two nations are allies.
Washington supports Ugandan soldiers serving in an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia and has donated about $1.5 billion to Uganda’s health sector in the past three years.
Opondo said, without providing any evidence, that Brown had a track record of causing trouble in countries where she has worked in the past. The government was watching her, he said.
The U.S. embassy has said last week’s vote was tainted by harassment of opposition candidates, suppression of media and rights advocates and a nationwide internet shutdown.
“These unlawful actions and the effective house arrest of a presidential candidate continue a worrying trend on the course of Uganda’s democracy,” it said in the statement.
Wine said on Twitter that even the father of his wife’s infant niece they were looking after had been refused entry to collect her.
“We have run out of food and milk. No one is allowed to leave or come into our compound,” he wrote.
A police spokesman was not immediately available to comment.
On Tuesday, Wine’s lawyers filed a petition in the high court challenging the legality of detaining Wine and his wife without charge.
The court has not yet said when the petition will be heard, lawyer Benjamin Katana told Reuters.
During the campaign, security forces routinely broke up Wine’s rallies with teargas, bullets, beatings and detentions, citing violations of laws meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In November, 54 people were killed as security forces quelled a protest that erupted after Wine was detained for alleged violation of the anti-coronavirus measures.
Wine and his National Unity Platform (NUP) have rejected the results and said they were challenging the outcome of the election in court.
On Monday, security forces cordoned off the party’s offices in the capital.
The party said that the action was aimed at complicating their efforts to collect evidence of irregularities committed during the election.

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