Ugandan music star turned presidential candidate Bobi Wine says he was nearly killed twice in recent weeks and called on the international community to hold Uganda’s government accountable ahead of elections next month.
Wine also accused the military of taking over the election process and said his campaign team have been tear-gassed and shot at with live bullets.
“I know that already the election is not free and fair,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “I have survived two assassination attempts in the last two weeks where bullets have been shot in my car and on the tires and in the wind screens.”
Photos posted to Wine’s Facebook and Twitter pages show bullet holes in the windscreens of cars he has been traveling in and him helping injured team members. CNN couldn’t independently verify the social media posts.
The Ugandan State House did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Wine is challenging incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for more than 30 years, in January 14 elections. The musician has accused Museveni of being a dictator responsible for human rights abuses, after at least 45 people were killed in protests last month sparked by the arrest of Wine for contravening Covid-19 regulations at a campaign rally.
While authorities have said the restrictions are necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19, opposition members and their supporters say they are an excuse to curb campaigning before the election.
At the time, witnesses told CNN that police, military and plainclothes gunmen fired high caliber rifles in dense urban areas to quell the protests. Those accounts were backed up by multiple videos shared on social media during the chaos.
Wine made a plea to the United States and the wider international community to stop cooperating with Uganda until Museveni puts a stop to the alleged human rights abuses.
“We know that the United States, it has a very strong partnership with Uganda. We receive over $100 million a year for our security, but, again, this is the same money that is being used to murder people, oppress Ugandans and to abuse human rights,” he told CNN.
Museveni has said Wine is “waging war” on Uganda by encouraging western countries not to invest in the east African nation.
“Mr. Bobi Wine went to America and said that people should not come and invest in Uganda. That means he is an enemy of progress in Uganda,” he said in an interview with the BBC last year.
The US provides $970 million in development and security assistance to Uganda every year. The purposes for this funding includes the “professionalization of the military” and “supporting democratic governance through inclusive, accountable institutions,” according to a State Department document.
Museveni has been invited to the White House on numerous occasions, most recently in 2014. In 2018, he said President Donald Trump “speaks to Africans frankly” after the US leader allegedly described some nations in Africa and elsewhere as “sh**hole countries.”
The State Department did not immediately response to request for comment.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, entered the political sphere in Uganda in 2017 and won his parliamentary seat the same year. He has been arrested and detained several times since.
Hotels have regularly been ordered not to host him or his campaign team, he said in a tweet on Monday, and he has had to sleep in vehicles on occasion.
“We are only going into this election as a protest vote because we know that the people of Uganda, even amid the intimidation, the harassment, will come out and massively vote and, yes, I’m sure they are going to vote out President Museveni because 35 years is just enough,” he said Monday.