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Deadly protests in Uganda after Bobi Wine arrest

November 18, 2020

Three have died in clashes during protests at the latest arrest of presidential candidate Bobi Wine, Ugandan police say. The authorities claim Wine was detained for violating anti-coronavirus measures while campaigning.

Police firing tear gas canisters to disperse supporters of presidential candidate Bobi Wine
Image: Abubaker Lubowa/REUTERS

Violent clashes between Ugandan security forces and people protesting at the latest arrest of presidential candidate Bobi Wine have left three dead and dozens injured, police and the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Uganda Red Cross said it had treated more than 30 people in the capital, Kampala, including 11 who had suffered gunshot wounds.

The protests in Kampala and other cities broke out after news of Wine's detention, the latest in a row of run-ins with the authorities for the professional pop singer, was announced. Young protesters in Kampala disrupted traffic with fires and barricades as they called for Wine's release. Local television footage showed squads of police and military personnel using tear gas and live bullets as they tried to disperse protesters.

In a statement, police said they had arrested Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, because he had violated measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus while campaigning in the east of the country.

Kampala police commander Moses Kafeero said police could not "stand and watch as politicians put the lives of Ugandans at stake by encouraging processions and huge rallies that fuel COVID-19 transmission."

Read more: Uganda's unequal political campaigns during COVID-19 times

  Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine sitting in police vehicle after being arrested
Pop singer Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, has been held for questioningImage: Abubaker Lubowa/REUTERS

Strong contender

Wine, a pop-star-turned-MP, has faced growing police harassment since announcing his intention to challenge long-time President Yoweri Museveni at an election on January 14 next year. He was most recently arrested on November 3, just moments after registering his candidacy.

He is now seen as the strongest challenger to Museveni, partly owing to a large contingent of young supporters drawn by the criticism of the government contained in his catchy pop songs.

Another opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, was also arrested for organizing an unauthorized rally in the northern city of Gulu.

Bobi Wine on Uganda elections

tj/dj (AFP, Reuters)