Uganda’s Wine Withdraws Election Result Challenge, Alleges Bias

By Reuters
February 22, 2021World News
Uganda’s Wine Withdraws Election Result Challenge, Alleges Bias
Ugandan opposition leader and singer Bobi Wine addresses a news conference in Kampala, Uganda, on Feb.22, 2021. (Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters)

KAMPALA—Opposition leader Bobi Wine said on Monday he was dropping a legal challenge to Uganda’s presidential election results that handed victory to incumbent Yoweri Museveni, saying Supreme Court justices hearing the case were biased.

Museveni, a former guerrilla leader who has led the East African country since 1986, was declared winner of the Jan. 14 election with 59 percent of the vote, while Wine was given 35 percent.

Wine, 39, a pop star and lawmaker whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has rejected the results and said he believed victory was stolen from him. He asked the court to overturn the results on several grounds including widespread use of violence.

“We have decided to withdraw from their court,” Wine told a news conference in the capital Kampala. “The courts are not independent, it is clear these people (judges) are working for Mr. Museveni.”

As proof, he cited the court’s decision to reject an application he had made to file additional evidence he said showed pre-ticking of ballots, false tallies of ballots, impossibly high voter turnout and other irregularities.

Wine also said some of the court’s judges had met Museveni several times since he filed the petition and some of the meetings had been secret. “We are convinced that the Supreme Court has a pre-determined mind,” he said.

Solomon Muyita, a judiciary spokesman, told Reuters judicial authorities would only respond to Wine’s accusations and decision to withdraw the case when he had formally quit the case through his lawyers.

“Right now what he has done is, he has only made a political statement. As far as the records of the Supreme Court are (concerned) the case is still there,” he said.

Wine has galvanized a large following among young Ugandans.

However, a crackdown by security forces on his supporters over the past few months has left dozens dead and hundreds detained. Wine and other leaders of his National Unity Platform party have also accused security forces of traversing the country and abducting and torturing his supporters.

Police have said they were investigating all reports of disappearances.

Last week soldiers beat and seriously injured journalists as they covered Wine delivering a petition to the U.N. human rights office in Uganda that requested an investigation into alleged human rights abuses.

On Thursday, the Ugandan military sentenced seven soldiers to up 90 days in jail after they were convicted of assaulting the journalists covering the event.

By Elias Biryabarema