Opposition lawmaker Medard Sseggona says he fears police will seize vital information related to elections that Wine said were marked by fraud.

Ugandan soldiers patrol near the street leading to the house of Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in Magere, Uganda, on January 18, 2021.
Ugandan soldiers patrol near the street leading to the house of Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in Magere, Uganda, on January 18, 2021. (AFP)

The opposition party of Ugandan presidential challenger Bobi Wine has said that security forces and police prevented top officials from going to their headquarters in the capital, Kampala, as they prepare to launch a legal challenge to free Wine from house arrest.

Both security forces and police swooped in at dawn on Monday at the offices of Wine’s National Unity Platform, diverted traffic, and stopped people from entering, party spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi told The Associated Press.

Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was the main opposition challenger in presidential elections last week that electoral authorities say long-time leader Yoweri Museveni won with 58 percent of the vote. 

Wine, who took 34 percent of the vote, has rejected the official outcome as fraudulent and insists he will use all legal means to protest the allegedly “cooked-up” results.

READ MORE: Ugandan president Museveni wins sixth term in office

Election fraud claims

Wine’s party has said it has video evidence of military stuffing ballot boxes, casting ballots for people and chasing voters away from polling stations.

Opposition lawmaker Medard Sseggona, an attorney for Wine, said he feared police would seize any vital information related to the elections that was kept at the party's headquarters.

Museveni has dismissed the claims of vote-rigging.

“I think this may turn out to be the most cheating-free election since 1962,” when Uganda won independence from Britain, said Museveni in a national address on Saturday.

But the election was marred by violence ahead of polling day as well as an internet shutdown that remained in force until Monday morning, when access was restored for most Ugandans, although social media sites remained restricted.

READ MORE: The world should pay heed to Bobi Wine and Uganda's election

Internet blackout

Internet was partially restored in Uganda almost five days after a near-total blackout was imposed across the country ahead of the elections.

The gradual easing of internet curbs came as police announced dozens of arrests for alleged election-related violence

A government spokesman said an unprecedented internet shutdown imposed on January 13 for alleged national security reasons had been lifted.

"The internet has been restored. Other platforms are still under review," Ofwono Opondo, the spokesman, told AFP.

"We shall go full throttle depending on what happens in the initial phase of opening connectivity... We advise internet users, especially those from the opposition, not to use it to promote hate messages, threats" and intimidation," Ofwono Opondo, the spokesman, told AFP.

NetBlocks, a non-government organisation that tracks internet shutdowns, said network data showed a rise in connectivity in Uganda to 37 percent after all but core infrastructure, regulatory and government networks were switched off.

"This suggests that Uganda's election shutdown, or at least the procedure under which it was implemented, was planned some time in advance.

READ MORE: Ugandan opposition candidate Bobi Wine, campaign team arrested

Wine on house arrest

Wine has been effectively under house arrest since he cast his vote and now is allegedly unable even to receive visitors. 

Police thwarted opposition officials who were trying to meet with Wine at hishome outside Kampala in order to discuss the way forward, Ssenyonyi said. 

Lawmaker Francis Zaake has been hospitalised after allegedly being assaulted by police who denied him access to Wine's house on Saturday.

Wine's party will seek a court order to end Wine's apparent house arrest, Ssenyonyi said. “His home is not a detention facility,” he said.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said security forces are “maintaining a security presence” around Wine's home as a pre-emptive measure against possible rioting in the aftermath of the disputed polls. 

Wine is allowed to leave his home under “escort” in order to prevent his followers from “instigating riots and violent demonstrations," he said.

READ MORE: Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine says he is under military siege

The 'ghetto president'

Police similarly surrounded the home of opposition candidate Kizza Besigye after presidential elections in 2016, preventing him from going out after the official results of his loss to Museveni had been declared.

Wine has said his campaign against Museveni is nonviolent and that his followers are unarmed.

In a generational clash watched across the African continent with a booming young population and a host of aging leaders, the 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker posed arguably the greatest challenge to Museveni, 76, since he came to power in 1986.

Calling himself the “ghetto president,” Wine had strong support in Uganda’s cities, where frustration with unemployment and corruption is high.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies