KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s security forces sealed off roads and erected barricades around the country’s main international airport on Thursday, ahead of the expected return of a popular lawmaker and critic of President Yoweri Museveni, witnesses said.
Robert Kyagulanyi, a 36-year old pop star, is widely seen as posing a significant challenge to Museveni, who has ruled since 1986.
On Thursday, helicopters were seen above Entebbe International Airport south of the capital Kampala a day after authorities banned rallies to welcome Kyagulanyi home from the United States, where he received treatment for injuries he said were sustained during torture by security forces.
Via Twitter, Kyagulanyi – also known as Bobi Wine – said on Wednesday that he was “headed home” and showed a picture of himself at an airport holding a walking stick.
Eye witnesses told Reuters the road linking Kampala to Entebbe town about 50 kilometres further south was cordoned off, with armed police surrounding the airport.
Kyagulanyi attracted a youth following through songs critical of the president and his prominence rose due to an incident in August in which his driver was shot dead and he was detained and charged with treason over what authorities said was the stoning of Museveni’s convoy.
The lawmaker, who has pleaded not guilty to treason charges, said he was beaten with an iron bar in detention in northern Uganda. The government denies that he was mistreated.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Toby Chopra)