Uganda's Bobi Wine urges 'strong action' over disputed polls

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 file photo, opposition presidential challenger Bobi Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, gestures as he speaks to the media outside his house after government soldiers withdrew from it, in Magere, near Kampala, in Uganda. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni in Feb. 2021 has ordered the suspension of the multimillion-dollar Democratic Governance Facility fund backed by European nations that supports the work of local groups focusing on democracy and good governance. (AP Photo/Nicholas Bamulanzeki, File)

KAMPALA – Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine is urging the international community to back up concerns over the country's disputed elections with “strong actions" against President Yoweri Museveni's government.

Wine, who is disputing his loss to the long-time leader in last month's presidential elections, told reporters that he hopes “the world will stand with the people of Uganda.”

“Gen. Museveni, like all dictators, is not moved by words,” said Wine, a 38-year-old singer and legislator whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. He spoke via video link from his house on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, where, he said, he effectively remains under house arrest.

“We hope that there will be more action following the strongly worded statements,” he said of international condemnation of the elections.

Wine said he was happy with MTV Base Africa's decision to postpone an awards ceremony that was due to be held later this month in Kampala, after pressure from activists who charged that the event would bolster the image of Uganda's government in the aftermath of the polls.

The 76-year-old Museveni is a United States ally who took power by force in 1986 and has been elected multiple times. He has collaborated with Washington to battle the Islamic extremist insurgency in Somalia, where Uganda was the first to deploy troops to defend the weak federal government there.

But Museveni's ties with the West appear to be cooling as criticism grows over alleged abuses by his security forces as well as his extended stay in power. Museveni is now accusing Wine of being a foreign agent, and has said that foreign meddling in Uganda “will not be tolerated.”

It emerged this week that in January he ordered the suspension of a multimillion-dollar fund backed by European nations that supports the work of scores of local groups —- including government agencies — focusing on good governance, human rights and accountability.