Uganda opposition leader forced into car at airport and driven home

KAMPALA (Reuters) -Uganda’s main opposition leader Bobi Wine was forced into a car by security agents and driven home on Thursday after disembarking from a plane following a trip abroad, his party said.

Wine, the strongest political challenger to veteran President Yoweri Museveni, was led away from the plane in Entebbe as an associate yelled, “Where are you taking him?”, according to a video posted on social media by his party.

The action appeared intended to avoid a public spectacle after the police said on Wednesday that anyone on the streets to welcome Wine would be arrested, following calls by his party for a million-strong march.

Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said security agencies accompanied Wine to his residence in the town of Kasangati, some 50 km (30 miles) north of Entebbe and near the capital Kampala.

Wine, a pop star whose legal name is Robert Kyagulanyi, finished runner-up to Museveni, 79, in the 2021 election which he said was marred by fraud.

Museveni has been in power in the East African country since 1986. His government has been accused by opponents and human rights activists of stifling the opposition, something Museveni denies.

Wine later posted on the messaging platform X that that the military and police had surrounded his house, leaving him “effectively under house arrest”.

Onyango said Wine was not under house arrest and that the heavy security deployment there was for “general security”.

Wine has been detained multiple times in the past while leading protests that have been dispersed with tear gas, rubber bullets and beatings.

At least 54 people died in protests that erupted in November 2020 ahead of the last presidential election.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Deborah Kyvrikosaios)