Uganda: Troops move to quell protests over Bobi Wine arrest

At least 16 people killed in protests over the arrest of presidential candidate and pop star Bobi Wine.

Ugandan security forces patrol on a street in Kampala [AP Photo]

Several people have been killed in Uganda in army and police operations to quell protests that broke out over the arrest of presidential candidate and pop star Bobi Wine, authorities said.

On Thursday, soldiers fanned out across the city, some in armoured vehicles. Troops and police fired tear gas, live bullets and water cannon to disperse and detain protesters on the second day of clashes.

A total of 16 people had been killed and 65 wounded, police said, without specifying details. A further 350 were arrested in the clashes.

Moments after Wine was detained while campaigning in eastern Uganda on Wednesday, spontaneous protests erupted in Kampala and several towns.

Youths set up roadblocks on key roads and lit fires before being dispersed by police.

“All the police is doing is just attacking us,” Fetsus Ojing, a Kampala resident, told Al Jazeera.

“Bobi Wine is supposed to be campaigning in the villages but he is in jail again. They are just wasting his time.”


Police said those arrested would be charged with participating in unlawful demonstrations, inciting violence, damage to properties, looting and other offences.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb reporting from Nairobi said Wine’s whereabouts were not fully known, with the police refusing to comment.

“His spokesman said he is in a high-security police facility, in the eastern city of Jinja,” Webb reported.

“Police haven’t confirmed where he is. Wine’s lawyers and his spokesman have said he hasn’t been given access to legal representation or to his medical team. They are worried he may be injured.”

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was detained on Wednesday after authorities accused him of violating anti-coronavirus measures by holding mass rallies.

He has emerged as the strongest challenger to veteran leader Yoweri Museveni who has ruled the East African country of 42 million since 1986.

Coronavirus restrictions

Museveni said in a statement Uganda was losing people to coronavirus and warned he would not tolerate any violations of anti-coronavirus measures during campaigns.

“It is criminal for anybody to ignore this … everybody must respect the rules of the Ministry of Health,” he said.

“Those who have been attacking people in Kampala will soon lose appetite for violence … whoever did that will regret,” Museveni added, referring to protesters who allegedly attacked supporters of the governing party during the unrest.

A police water cannon truck clears the remains of burning makeshift roadblocks set by protesters supporting opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine, in Kampala [AP]

Voters are due to go to the polls on January 14 to elect their next president and lawmakers. Museveni, 76, is seeking a sixth term in office.

“This is a war-like situation, so the army has to deploy,” army spokeswoman Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso said earlier on Thursday, justifying the heavy deployment of the military.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies