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Seven dead in Uganda protests as opposition leader Bobi Wine arrested again

Arrested: Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine, who is the main challenger to incumbent Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 presidential election in Uganda.
Arrested: Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine, who is the main challenger to incumbent Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 presidential election in Uganda. AFP

The death toll from violent protests which erupted after the arrest of Uganda's presidential candidate Bobi Wine has risen to seven, according to police authorities. At least forty-five people have been injured.

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Ugandan security forces clashed with supporters of the pop star-turned-opposition leader Wine who is President Yoweri Museveni's main opponent in the presidential election, scheduled for 14 January.

The singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, remained in police custody on Thursday, after being arrested for allegedly violating coronavirus measures at his rallies.

"Bobi Wine has continuously violated electoral guidelines on Covid-19, holding rallies, processions and hosting more than the recommended 200 people per campaign venue," the police claim.

"As law enforcement, we can't stand and watch as politicians put the lives of Ugandans at stake by encouraging processions and huge rallies, which fuel Covid-19 transmission."

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said calm had returned to the capital Kampala "even after there were attempts by some gangs this morning to block roads by burning tyres and setting up barricades, which police stopped."

The Uganda Red Cross said in a statement that it had treated more than 30 people in Kampala following "scuffles involving the police and the rioting masses", including 11 people suffering from gunshot wounds.

Another opposition presidential candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, was arrested for organising an unauthorised rally in the northern city of Gulu.

Uganda's police chief Martin Okoth Ochola had warned that officers were taking "a tougher approach to preserve the integrity of the electoral process".

In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was "important that there is a space provided for people to express themselves, whether via demonstration or through a democratic process".

"It's very important that state institutions, particularly security forces, act in a manner that respects human rights," he added, urging all sides to "work in a way that will ensure a peaceful election".

Wine was most recently arrested on 3 November, moments after registering his candidacy for the 14 January 2021 presidential election. He was charged with planning an illegal rally.

Wine, nicknamed the "Ghetto President", has faced escalating police harassment since announcing his intention to challenge 76-year-old Museveni, who seized power at the head of a rebel army in 1986.

 

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