Ugandan soldiers have stood down their positions around the residence of opposition leader Bobi Wine, a day after a court ordered an end to the confinement of the presidential runner-up.
Wine, a popstar-turned-MP whose real name is Robert Kyagulani, had been under de-facto house arrest at his home outside the capital, Kampala, since he returned from voting on January 14.
For 11 days heavily armed soldiers and police officers surrounding the property had prevented members of Wine’s household, including his wife, Barbie, from leaving their compound and denied access to visitors.
But security forces withdrew from around Wine’s house on Tuesday, allowing the opposition leader to convene with newly-elected MPs from his National Unity Platform (NUP) for the first time since the vote he says was rigged.
“I was put under illegal detention in my own house because General Museveni did not win,” he told MPs, supporters, party activists and reporters gathered on his lawn.
“He is staging a coup against the will of the people of Uganda.”
The High Court on Monday ruled in favour of a petition lodged by Wine’s lawyers asking for his release, saying his “continued indefinite restriction and confinement” was unlawful.
The Ugandan government had argued that the restrictions on Wine’s movements were “preventative” measures for his own protection and to prevent protests against the election result, which delivered a sixth term for long-running President Yoweri Museveni.
Wine has urged his supporters to reject the results as a sham but has stopped short of calling for protests.
However, he warned Museveni — who has been in power uninterrupted since 1986 — that other long-ruling African leaders like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir had been ousted by popular uprisings for overstaying their welcome.
“We want Museveni out of office in less than a year,” Wine said, without elaborating.
The run-up to Uganda’s presidential and parliamentary vote was marred by the worst pre-election bloodshed in years, and a sustained crackdown on government critics and Museveni’s rivals, most notably Wine.