Ugandan pop star turned leading opposition figure Bobi Wine on Wednesday officially announced he would take on veteran President Yoweri Museveni in 2021 national elections.
“On behalf of the people of Uganda I am challenging you (Museveni) to a free and fair election in 2021,” the singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, announced at an event in Kampala.
Wine was wearing a red tie and his signature red beret, which he has called a “symbol of resistance”, a look copied by dozens of his supporters at the event.
Wine has long hinted he would throw his hat into the ring and told AFP in an interview last month he was “ready to take him on”, referring to 74-year-old Museveni, who plans to seek a sixth term in office in the presidential election.
Wine, 36, entered parliament in 2017 and has emerged as a leading critic of Museveni, striking a chord with young Ugandans with his songs about social justice.
One of Wine’s songs contains the lyrics “freedom fighters become dictators,” while others hint that Museveni has stayed in power too long.
He has faced repeated arrests while authorities have frustrated his efforts to perform.
Wine was most recently arrested in April for allegedly staging an illegal protest in 2018 — charges fellow opposition MPs decried as ridiculous — but was released from jail after just a few days in prison.
He is also facing treason charges after he and 30 other opposition politicians were arrested in August last year for allegedly stoning Museveni’s convoy following a campaign rally.
He accused security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody — which authorities denied.
“After 33 years, the Museveni dictatorship is very weakened. Indeed every dictatorship has an expiry date,” Wine told AFP in May, saying the “majority” of Uganda was with his cause.
“We are confident that we can put an end to the Museveni dictatorship using a vote and civilised means.”
Earlier this year Uganda’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to remove an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders, paving the way for Museveni to run again in 2021.