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Ugandan Lawmaker Arrives in US for Medical Treatment


Bobi Wine is seen in a wheelchair just before his departure at Entebbe International Airport, in Entebbe, Uganda, Aug. 31, 2018 in this still image taken from a social media video on September 1, 2018.

A Ugandan legislator allegedly tortured by security officials has arrived in the United States for medical care.

Entertainer-turned-opposition lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, posted on Twitter that he has arrived in the U.S., without giving his location: "Safely arrived in the US where I'll be receiving specialised treatment following the brutal torture at the hands of SFC soldiers. We thank the world for standing with us. I will soon tell you what exactly happened to me since 13th August and what is next. #peoplepower Power"

Thursday night police detained Kyagulanyi and fellow opposition lawmaker Francis Zaake at the Kampala airport as they tried to leave the country. The police said the two opposition figures, who both face treason charges, were fleeing the country.

Both men said they were tortured after their previous arrests, and a Kampala hospital had referred them for medical care abroad. Kyagulanyi was headed for the United States, while Zaake was headed for India.

Upon reaching the airport, the opposition legislators were told they did not have clearance to travel and were taken to a government hospital in police ambulances. Their arrest sparked protests around Kampala, which were at times met with police gunfire and tear gas Friday.

Their lawyer, Asumani Basalirwa, says the director of criminal investigations, Grace Akullo, told him that since the legislators said they were tortured, government doctors needed to examine them.

The doctors examined Kyagulanyi, but not Zaake, Basalirwa said.

The international media and social media campaign by supporters of the opposition politicians appears to have helped free Kyagulanyi. According to the Associated Press, Zaake remains in the hospital.

Kyagulanyi, Zaake and three other opposition lawmakers originally were among more than 30 people arrested in early August after a protest broke during campaigning for by-election. Protesters threw stones at and damaged President Yoweri Museveni's vehicle.

Museveni has been president since 1986. Many older Ugandans still support the 74-year-old leader. But about 75 percent of Ugandans are under the age of 35, and they are beginning to tire of his authoritarian rule.

At the same time, human rights organizations and opposition politicians say the government has grown increasingly repressive toward critics.

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