The People Power Movement: The Greatest Opposition to Uganda’s 33 Yearlong Regime
Bobi Wine is known in Uganda as a pop star, Minister of Parliament, and self-described “Ghetto President.” Born into poverty, Wine was able to rise and become one of the biggest stars in modern East African pop. Now, he is leading the opposition against the 33-year long reign of the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni.
Bobi Wine’s rise started most notably with his opposition to the repeal of article 105b of the Ugandan constitution, which sets an age maximum of 75 for the President. Museveni and his allies were able to get the article repealed ensuring the 74-year-old will continue to hold office. Wine’s opposition, along with that of other MPs, led to government special operatives raiding parliament and arresting 25 opposition MPs. In response, mass protests broke out outside of parliament and were met with excessive violence from police forces.
Civil unrest for the last year has been growing. However, it reached a boiling point when a group of Wine protestors clashed with the Presidential motorcade. Museveni claimed a rock hit his car and in response, he violently arrested 35 other opposition leaders including Wine. Police brutally beat many of those arrested, causing some hospitalized. The next day it was revealed that Wine’s chauffeur had been shot and killed while they were in the car. Bobi Wine himself was beaten almost to the point of being unrecognizable and suffered from major internal bleeding. Due to the injuries sustained and for the need of recovery, he flew to the U.S. to seek medical treatment.
The “Ghetto President” made a harrowing return to Uganda on Sept. 20, 2018, greeted by many of his supporters. His return is a great triumph for the People Power movement, a broad coalition with political aims that seeks to unite the country against Museveni. While the movement has gained traction within the last year, Wine himself is still set to stand trial for his treason charge placed after his arrest, which could result in the death penalty.
The Ugandan youth are tired of the abuses and eager for change, and Bobi Wine is the symbol of such change. Despite denying his Presidential ambitions, Wine poses the greatest threat to Museveni in the 2021 elections if he can evade a faulty treason charge and unite the country behind him.
The People Power movement is an egalitarian view of what Uganda could be. In a press statement released September 24, Wine states that “People Power is an idea! It is the idea that all power belongs to the people as guaranteed by Article 1 of our Constitution.” Wine goes on in the statement to describe People Power as being “every Ugandan who is interested in a better country.” This undying commitment to the ideals of democracy is what sets the People Power movement apart.