The Ugandan troops have withdrawn from around the home of opposition leader and pop star Bobi Wine, ending his house arrest since a Jan. 14 election won by long-serving President Yoweri Museveni.
With the vote behind him and fraud claims by Wine failing to gain significant traction, Museveni appears to be calculating that he can mollify pressure from Western allies to free his rival without significant risk to his power base.
The withdrawal of security forces, which the government had said were for Wine’s own protection, complied with a court order on Monday.
A Reuters correspondent on the scene confirmed the departure of soldiers and police from his compound in a leafy northern suburb of the capital Kampala.
A police helicopter circled low over the residence.
“That is normal, nothing to worry about. Police can fly its helicopters anywhere it wants,” said Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Luke Owoyesigyire.
Former guerrilla leader Museveni, 76, has long been a Western ally, receiving copious aid and sending troops to trouble spots including Somalia to fight Islamist militants.