Connect with us

Breaking News

Bobi Wine: How an ex-pop star could finally threaten the ‘big man syndrome’ of African politics | World News



Unrest in Uganda ahead of the election

If there is a powerful irony at work in the upcoming Ugandan presidential election, it is evident in the way a political upstart called Bobi Wine has rattled the confidence of Africa’s third-longest serving leader, Yoweri Museveni, while simultaneously accepting that that he will not win the poll.

The 38-year old pop star turned parliamentarian is running as the presidential candidate for the National Unity Platform. It’s a progressive political party founded earlier this year, with the charismatic singer as its leader.

And he has fired the imagination of many in Uganda – and right across Africa.

Unrest in Uganda ahead of the election

His campaign appearances draw thousands of people with a basic message about democracy, accountability, and the importance of elected officials following the law.

He represents hope and change in a country where the vast majority have only known Mr Museveni as their president.

“The Uganda we want to live in, what we call the new Uganda, is a Uganda where everyone is equal, the law treats us the same… a Uganda where we are respected and applauded on an international platform, not known for poverty, disease, corruption, and for dictatorship,” he says.

“That’s the Uganda that I envision – that we envision – as a generation.”

To Western ears, Wine’s manifesto does not sound particularly radical – but the public’s enthusiastic embrace has unnerved the government.

The coercive apparatus of state has been deployed to quell his campaign activities, although the authorities say they’re taking measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London on 20 January 2020
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is Africa’s third longest-serving leader, having taken power in 1986

Mr Wine said: “The election is being stolen and rigged, not will be (on election day), by the mere fact that I have been blocked from campaigning, that my posters are not allowed to be there, that I’m not allowed to have any billboards, that I am blocked from radio and TV stations, that I’m a presidential candidate who is not allowed to drive on main roads or even address people in towns.”

Last week, journalists watched as Mr Wine was physically dragged out of his vehicle parked by the roadside.

Ten days ago, every member of Wine’s campaign team was arrested on Kalangala Island, south of the capital Kampala, as he attempted to hold a rally.

Ugandan presidential candidate and pop star, Bobi Wine, who is campaigning to replace President Museveni, was arrested
Ugandan presidential candidate and pop star, Bobi Wine, who is campaigning to replace President Museveni, was arrested in November

He was not detained by the authorities, although he was flown back home in a military helicopter.

The unwanted detour is evidence that the authorities are trying to come to terms with Mr Wine’s popularity.

When they briefly detained him in November for violating COVID-19 guidelines, unruly protests broke out in several towns, with police, soldiers and plainclothes gunmen killing at least 54 people in response.

Still, President Museveni, who effectively controls the security services – as well as the country’s electoral commission – is not going to hand over the reins of power.

Curiously, the problem is one he himself recognised when he seized the presidency back in 1986: “The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power.”

The 76-year old, who brought a measure of peace and stability in the first years of his rule, now follows a well-trodden path.

A Bobi Wine supporter carrying a campaign poster during protests
A Bobi Wine supporter carrying a campaign poster during protests

Like the leaders of many other African countries, he has changed the country’s constitution to perpetuate his rule.

Some analysts blame the continent’s so-called “big man syndrome” – a sort of cultural respect for the powerful – but recent events in the US show the instinct to rule to be a universal.

The person in the presidential chair will never have enough time and will doubtless argue “the people still love me”.

That is probably why Bobi Wine is such a threat to Yoweri Museveni.

The opposition politician’s popularity cannot be contained with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Mr Wine says he is in this fight for the duration.

“We are going to get our freedom or we are going to die trying to get our freedom. Good enough. We are not violent and we are living in a generation where the world is watching.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Breaking News

Donald Trump issues flurry of pardons as he leaves office | US News



Donald Trump issues flurry of pardons as he leaves office | US News

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne are among the people being pardoned or granted clemency by Donald Trump in the final hours of his presidency.

The outgoing president granted clemency to 143 people on Wednesday.

Wayne pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun on a private flight in 2019. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison at a hearing next week.

Biden inauguration: Watch and follow events on Sky News from 1pm, with the ceremony starting at 4pm

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘We pray for the new administration’

The president met the rapper during his election campaign last year, with the artist later praising some of Mr Trump’s policies such as proposed justice reforms.

Controversial former White House adviser Bannon, who was fired by Mr Trump, has also been granted clemency.

“Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen,” the White House said in a statement.

He was charged last year with swindling Trump supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the US-Mexico border wall, and pleaded not guilty.

Bannon was appointed chief executive of Mr Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016, leaving his role at conservative website Breitbart News.

Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne is also among a raft of 11th-hour pardons and commutations

He became chief strategist for Mr Trump after his inauguration, but clashed with others in the White House and was pushed out in August 2017.

Bannon was recently banned from Twitter after he called for the beheading of top government doctor Anthony Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray.

Others reportedly among the dozens of people being pardoned are Kodak Black – a rapper also sentenced over weapons charges, and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who is seven years into a 28-year sentence for corruption and racketeering.

Mr Trump has previously pardoned several of his closest confidantes such as Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who lied to the FBI, and commuted the prison term for Roger Stone – who was convicted of lying to Congress during its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Continue Reading

Breaking News

Super Bowl LV: First woman official chosen for showpiece American Football game | US News



Ms Thomas will be a down judge at the Tampa game next month

A woman will officiate at next month’s Super Bowl for the first time, the NFL has announced.

Sarah Thomas, 47, will be a down judge at the world’s biggest annual sporting event.

“Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl.

“Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor,” said NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent.

Ms Thomas became the league’s first full-time female official in 2015, making her regular season debut in September that year.

Ms Thomas will be a down judge at the Tampa game next month

She will join a male-dominated staff of officials for the big game in Tampa, Florida, on 7 February.

Home town side Tampa Bay Buccaneers are due to play Green Bay Packers for a place in the game, while their opponents will be either Buffalo Bills or defending champions Kansas City Chiefs.

NFL bosses have yet to reveal how many fans will be able to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports have suggested it could be around 20%, with fans sitting in groups and having to wear masks.

The half-time show comes from Canadian singer The Weeknd.

Continue Reading

Breaking News

US says China is committing genocide against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities | World News



Mr Pompeo and his top aides are rushing to complete actions they believe will cement their legacy

The US State Department has declared that China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in a campaign targeting Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. 

In a statement, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state.”

The designation was made in the dying hours of the Trump administration. But the incoming Biden team had previously voiced its support for such a definition, labelling the repression of Uighurs genocide in August last year.

And although Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has pledged to reverse a host of President Trump’s foreign policy measures, he said that he agreed with Mr Pompeo’s determination.

In his determination of crimes against humanity, Pompeo cited “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilisation, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labour, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement”.

Mike Pompeo said he believed the genocide was ongoing

Beijing is likely to react furiously. At a press conference held last week in the Chinese capital, Communist Part official Xu Guixiang said: “This utterly untethered fabrication of ‘genocide’ regarding Xinjiang is the conspiracy of the century.”

Analysis: Condemnation of China might be the only point of consensus between Biden and Trump

The US labelling China’s treatment of Uighurs and other minorities as genocide is the most significant intervention on the issue. It might get lost in the pageantry of today’s inauguration, and the pressing domestic concerns of the US, but it will reverberate for months and years to come.

China’s reaction is guaranteed to be apoplectic. But it will seek to portray the genocide designation as motivated by politics, the last gasp of an outgoing administration and the personal vendetta of Mike Pompeo – public enemy number one in Chinese propaganda.

Critics elsewhere might agree with some of that. The Trump administration was not well known for its protection of minorities and human rights, whether at home or abroad. The US ignored calls to declare Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya as genocide, for example.

And President Trump previously sidestepped human rights issues in his dealings with China, preferring initially to focus on trade. His former national security adviser John Bolton alleged that in July 2019 President Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he was correct to build detention centres for Uighurs.

The designation isn’t too much of a curveball for the Biden administration, which has voiced its agreement – perhaps the only point of consensus between two vastly different administrations. For all the division in the US, it is united on China.

But it might make things more difficult for America’s allies. The British government narrowly defeated an amendment to legislation that would have added a genocide clause to trade bills, a clause aimed squarely at China. And the EU has recently concluded its own massive trade deal with China. The Biden administration may take a dim view of all that, and the genocide designation adds more moral heft.

In practical terms, the designation legally allows the US to take some new measures, although none of those are massive. The power is in the symbolism. And that symbolism may be most apparent in a year’s time, when the 2022 Winter Olympics begin in Beijing.

It’s hard to imagine Team USA competing in a country the US government accuses of ongoing genocide. Would other countries join that boycott?

Continue Reading