Ugandan pop star and opposition MP arrested over 2018 protest

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Ugandan police arrested pop star turned MP Bobi Wine on Monday, barely two days after lifting the house arrest of a potential challenger to veteran President Yoweri Museveni, and placed him in custody over a protest he organised last year, his lawyer said.

Wine, at 37, is the figurehead of a new generation who grew up under Museveni but want to see change and his anti-government songs have helped win him a big following.

Police arrested him after he answered a summons to the Criminal Investigations Directorate on Monday morning, said one of his lawyers, Asuman Basalirwa. “Bobi Wine and four others including his brother and his bodyguard have been remanded to prison until May 2,” Basalirwa told AFP.

“The state claims my clients in July 2018, held a demonstration against the social media tax without notifying the police contrary to the provisions of Public Order Management Act,” he said.

“The state further claims the accused refused to cooperate with police to ensure participants in the alleged demonstration were unarmed and peaceful. All the claims have been denied by him (Wine) and the others,” he added.

Wine and other activists had held a demonstration in Kampala against a two shilling fee for cellular phone users to pay for access to social media links.

Wine entered parliament in 2017. One of his songs contains the lyric “freedom fighters become dictators,” while others hint that Museveni has stayed in power too long.