Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine arrested at airport as he returns home

By Lauren Kent, Sarah Dean and Stephanie Busari, CNN

CNN  —  Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine was arrested at Entebbe International Airport near the capital Kampala on Thursday as he returned to the country, according to his party the National Unity Platform.

The National Unity Platform (NUP) said in a social media post that Wine was “violently arrested upon his return to Uganda. We are yet to establish his whereabouts.”

The party released video showing several men grabbing Wine on the tarmac, while one of his associates repeatedly yells, “Where are you taking him?”

CNN has reached out to the Ugandan police for comment.

Speaking to reporters outside his home later Thursday, Wine said that he is under house arrest.

“As we speak right now, I’m under house arrest because my house is surrounded, you know, soldiers and police are all over,” he said.

Wine said that as soon as he landed at Entebbe International Airport, near the capital of Kampala, “goons” grabbed him and put him into a “waiting, private car” that was packed with more than 15 people.

He said he was dragged into the car from the tarmac and the “goons” twisted his arms.

“It was very humiliating, very uncomfortable, but I am glad I reached here,” he said.

The arrest appears to be an attempt to stop a planned procession outside the airport by Wine’s supporters as police issued a warning ahead of his arrival urging them to cancel the march.

Opposition frontrunner

Wine, a popstar-turned-politician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was the main opposition frontrunner in the presidential elections in January 2021 and lost to President Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni claimed he had been re-elected for a sixth term despite widespread allegations of fraud and intimidation. Wine rejected the election results, saying he had evidence of fraud and intimidation.

On Thursday, as Wine returned to the country, the National Unity Platform also claimed its headquarters was “under siege.”

His party also said on ‘X,’ formerly known as Twitter, that military choppers have been filmed hovering over Wine’s home in Magere, Uganda, adding that “security operatives have been deployed all round his perimeter fence.”

Wine has faced multiple arrests by Ugandan security forces over the years, particularly in the lead up to Uganda’s controversial elections.

He previously told CNN in a 2021 interview that his life is in danger in the country.

As he prepared to return to Uganda, Wine posted on social media in the early hours of Thursday, saying, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for the Lord is with me — Psalms 23:4. I am coming home!”

Uganda Police Force released a statement Wednesday saying they had received information about a planned procession starting at Entebbe International Airport on Thursday, involving “a group of political activists, associated with the National Unity Platform (NUP).”

Police encouraged the organizers to cancel the march to avoid traffic disruption and the risk of attracting “criminal activities, posing risks to bystanders, motorists, passengers, and businesses through acts of theft or other criminal activities.”

“We also advise members of the public who may have been mobilized, to refrain from participating in these illegal activities,” the police statement released Wednesday said.

“The Security Agencies will take all necessary measures to ensure that individuals involved in illegal activities are arrested and brought before the courts of law.”

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