The Ugandan Police report that three people are dead with at least 34 injured following protests that broke out in Kampala on Wednesday in response to the arrest of presidential candidate, Bobi Wine. The Washington Post and New York Times, however, have since said that the death toll has risen to 7, and the Observer Uganda has suggested that the figure is 19.
Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, is a pop star turned opposition politician who was campaigning in Luuka at the time of his arrest and was detained in a police station in Jinja. Images and videos circulating on social media show that protesters burned tyres and blocked roads. The police responded by opening fire and using tear gas.
The Police have said that Wine was arrested for breaking Covid-19 guidelines by holding a campaign rally where attendees were not wearing facemasks or social distancing. Since his arrest, Mr Wine’s Twitter account has tweeted that the government is “in panic” because of the high levels of support for him and that Covid-19 “is an excuse”.
Mr Wine is Musevni’s biggest rival in the coming January elections, and is popular amongst younger voters. The incumbent president Museveni has been in power since 1986 and commentators have suggested that he is arresting opponents to secure his seventh term.
Patrick Oboi Amuriat, another opposition candidate, was arrested in Gulu for breaking Covid restrictions at a rally, which he said is a cover-up for the fact that Museveni is concerned that the “people of Uganda no longer desire him”. Another Presidential candidate Gen Mugisha Muntu tweeted on Wednesday that he will suspending his campaign “until our colleagues … are released and their freedom to campaign guaranteed”.
Mr Wine’s Twitter account reports that his lawyers have been denied access to him and calls for “all peoples of good conscience” to condemn the government for their actions.
Wine, who has been arrested a couple of times over the last year, remains in custody while protests continue.
Featured image via the Globe and Mail.