Uganda's pop star politician charged in military court

The image of Kyagulanyi, in his signature red beret, leading a crowd of supporters through the streets became ubiquitous

A Ugandan pop star turned opposition MP was charged in a military court Thursday with illegal possession of weapons, following his arrest after the presidential convoy was pelted with stones.

Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, was arrested on Tuesday in the northwestern town of Arua, and charged before a court martial in Gulu.

"Hon. Kyagulanyi has today been arraigned before the General Court Martial in Gulu and charged... on accounts of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition," said a statement signed by army spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire.

Kyagulanyi has been held in custody with his next court appearance due on August 23.

Kyagulanyi's lawyer, Asuman Basalirwa, complained that he had been unable to consult his client.

"The army has refused us access to him. Even his family has been denied access," he said.

Kyagulanyi was arrested campaigning for an opposition candidate in a hard-fought by-election that also drew President Yoweri Museveni in support of the ruling party candidate.

A crowd that jeered Museveni's convoy and broke his car window on Monday afternoon was dispersed by police who fired live rounds, killing Kyagulanyi's driver. Kyagulanyi was arrested the following morning.

On Thursday, Kyagulanyi's supporters in the Kamwokya area of the capital, Kampala, where he is MP, burned tyres as they protested his detention.

"He is innocent, he has to be released unconditionally," shouted Yusuf Muranga during a running battle with police.

A group of four opposition MPs and 30 others who were arrested at the same time as Kyagulanyi appeared in a civilian court in Gulu to be charged with treason.

"The state claims they wanted to harm the person of the president," said lawyer Medard Ssegoona, confirming the treason charge.

Among his clients was Kassiano Wadri, Kyagulanyi's favoured candidate in the by-election who went on to win Wednesday's vote despite being in police custody.

In a statement Thursday, Museveni said he supported the court action against the politicians.

"The cases of terrorism, damaging property, manslaughter etc against the Hons: Wadri, Bobi Wine, etc will continue," he said. "Their actions led to the death of a Ugandan, injury of a number of others and damage to property, so the allegations go."