TREASON: Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. Picture: AP/African News Agency (ANA)
KAMPALA, Uganda: Ugandan pop star-turned-government-critic Bobi Wine was freed on bail yesterday, ending days of incarceration during which he and some of his co-accused were allegedly tortured by security forces.

The 36-year-old lawmaker, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was on crutches as he left the courthouse in Gulu. He alleges that he was injured by severe beatings at the hands of security forces while he was in detention. Ssentamu had been detained since August14.

A judge freed him alongside others who are similarly charged with treason for their alleged roles in an incident in which President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade was pelted with stones.

Ssentamu’s arrest came after he was campaigning on August13 in Arua. Museveni also was in Arua at the time.

Authorities have been under pressure to free Ssentamu, who is challenging Museveni by appealing to young people who despair over the lack of jobs and other opportunities. His supporters, citing his success in helping opposition candidates to win elections across the country, are urging him to run for president in 2021.

At least two of Ssentamu’s co-accused fainted during court proceedings.

The government denies the allegations of torture. Museveni, a US ally on regional security, took power by force in 1986 and has since been elected five times.

The 74-year-old Museveni is now able to seek re-election in 2021 because parliament passed legislation last year removing a clause in the constitution that had prevented anyone over 75 from holding the presidency.

Ssentamu publicly opposed that decision.