Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018
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Bobi Wine travels

  • Uganda-Pop-Star

    Ugandan military police, one wearing a balaclava with a skull painted on, patrol where supporters of pop star-turned-lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, had gathered in the Kisekka Market area of Kampala, Uganda, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

    AP

  • Uganda-Pop-Star-1

    Ugandan pop star-turned-lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, center, arrives at a magistrate's court in Gulu, northern Uganda Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

    AP

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Uganda, a nation of about 42 million people, is caught in a frightening spiral of authoritarianism and revolt brought on by the refusal of a strongman leader to give up power.

In a new outrage that is attracting negative attention to the government of President Yoweri Museveni, pop singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine, was initially prohibited from traveling out of the country to get medical treatment.

Uganda-Pop-Star-1

Ugandan pop star-turned-lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, center, arrives at a magistrate's court in Gulu, northern Uganda Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

AP Enlarge

Only international pressure brought the government to relent and allow Mr. Ssentamu to travel to where he wanted to go.

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The 36-year-old pop singer’s supporters say his injuries were caused by the Ugandan army while he was under arrest.

Mr. Ssentamu, who entered politics last year and was elected to Parliament, has rallied and emboldened youthful opposition to the long rule of Mr. Museveni, 74, who has held power since 1986.

Mr. Museveni follows in the Ugandan tradition of strongmen, such as Idi Amin, though he started out promising and making political reforms. Twenty years ago he was seen as a new generation of leader ending the strongman government style. Now he is the reigning model of African strongmen.

It is a curse of Africa that the people cannot shake off the self-serving leadership of these strongman presidents-for-life.

Supporters of Mr. Ssentamu say he was beaten and tortured while in army custody after a protest in which rocks were thrown at the president’s car and Mr. Ssentamu’s driver was shot dead.

He was arrested at the airport in an effort to keep him from leaving the country, a move, according to his lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo, so authorities could conceal evidence of torture.

Mr. Ssentamu is setting a brave example for his own country and for the world. He deserves the world’s support and President Trump’s as well in order to be freed to obtain the medical care wherever it is to be found.

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