Musicians, including Coldplay star Chris Martin, have condemned the “vicious” treatment suffered by a Ugandan pop star turned politician who was severely beaten while in custody.
Pressure is mounting on the government of Uganda to free Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, who has emerged as an influential critic of long-serving president Yoweri Museveni after winning a parliamentary seat last year.
The deputy speaker of Uganda’s parliament said Mr Ssentamu is in “a lot of pain” after being beaten while in custody.
A letter signed by international stars including Martin, Chrissie Hynde, Femi Kuti, Brian Eno and Angelique Kidjo stated: “We pledge to remain vigilant about his ongoing detention and to use our voices … to raise awareness about his case”.
The government denies allegations that it tortured Mr Ssentamu, and the military released a video of the 36-year-old opposition leader smiling during the visit by the deputy speaker, Jacob Oulanyah.
Mr Oulanyah said of the beating: “This should not have happened. It was not necessary. But it happened.”
Despite being in pain, Mr Ssentamu was in a “humorous” mood during the visit, Mr Oulanyah told reporters.
Mr Ssentamu is expected to make an appearance in a military court on Thursday. He has not been seen in public since August 13, when he was campaigning in a by-election in the north-western town of Arua.