Police in Uganda confronted popular opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine during an online news conference on Thursday that was held to announce a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Journalists watched as an officer appeared to drag Bobi Wine from the car while he pleaded that he had broken no law. He added that police fired tear gas and bullets as they swarmed his car.
“I am not even allowed to park on the side of the road,” he said. “Please don’t embarrass our country.”
Bobi Wine was allowed to finish the briefing and drive on. He had spent the day campaigning during which he said 23 members of his team had been arrested.
The singer and opposition leader was announcing he is petitioning the ICC to investigate allegations of torture and other rights abuses in the East African country ahead of next week’s election.
The 38-year-old Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has fired up the imagination of many across Africa as he tries to unseat longtime President Yoweri Museveni, who has deployed the military to prevent what he sees as opposition attempts to create civil unrest that could cause regime change.
“Many atrocities are being committed on the orders of Museveni,” he told reporters.
There was no comment from government officials or the police.
Bobi Wine has been arrested several times on various charges but never convicted. He says his life may be in danger and campaigns wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet.
“I expect a live bullet targeted at me any time,” said Bobi Wine, who has sent his children to the US over safety concerns.
At least 54 people were killed in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, and other parts of the country in November as security forces put down riots provoked by Bobi Wine’s arrest for allegedly violating campaign regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Those deaths form a critical part of his petition to the ICC to investigate alleged acts of torture, mutilation and murder of civilian protesters.
The 41-page brief filed by him and two other alleged torture victims mentions Museveni, security minister Elly Tumwine and eight senior security officials.
It asks the ICC to consider incidents dating back to 2018, saying the police and military have deployed, “widespread use of shoot to kill, beatings and other violence”.
Museveni has governed Uganda since 1986. He has defied many calls for his retirement, saying he has been elected many times by Ugandans who love him.
He has spoken disparagingly of the ICC, calling it “a bunch of useless people”.