The popular lawmaker has been arrested for the second time in one month. He is widely considered a formidable challenger to strongman President Yoweri Museveni.
Police in Uganda arrested two lawmakers, including musician Bobi Wine, as they tried to leave the country on Thursday. Wine was attempting to fly to the US for medical treatment after he was reportedly tortured during a short stint in jail that ended last week.
Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was detained at Entebbe International Airport, as was his colleague Francis Zaake.
Growing up in the slums of the capital Kampala, Ssentamu, 36, rose to prominence in Uganda in the early 2000s for his pop music and philanthropy work. After announcing he would run for parliament in April 2017, he easily beat two seasoned candidates for his seat and his popularity has continued to rise.
Ssentamu has been seen as a potential challenger to President Yuweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 32 years, during which time he has repeatedly been accused of suppressing the opposition and rights abuses.
According to lawyer Nicholas Opiyo, Ssentamu was "violently abducted" from the airport.
"Given the fact that he is on bail, the Police is concerned and await for guidance from the relevant government department," the national police wrote on Twitter after the incident.
Ssentamu was one of 30 members of parliament who were arrested earlier this month over an incident in which President Museveni's car was reportedly pelted with stones and Ssentamu's driver was shot dead.
The lawmaker was charged with illegal weapons possession and sent to a military court. According to British daily The Times, when Ssentamu appeared in court, it looked as though he had been severely beaten.
Ugandan State Prosecution withdrew the military charges on August 23. Ssentamu is free on bail, but still faces a possible civilian trial on treason accusations.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo later said on Twitter that Francis Zaake, who has yet to be charged with a crime, had escaped police custody "and should be arrested at the earliest."
According to a letter penned by the speaker of Uganda's parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, Zaake was also "gravely ill" after his week in detention. Ssentamu's legal team has said that on top of wounds from the beatings, the former pop star was now suffering from kidney issues.
es/rc (AP, Reuters)