Riots Erupt in Uganda After Arrest of Presidential Candidate
Riots erupted in the Ugandan capital after the authorities arrested Bobi Wine, a pop star-turned-politician who’s running against President Yoweri Museveni in elections scheduled for January.
At least three people died and dozens more sustained injuries, the Uganda Police Force said in a statement on its Facebook page. The riots started in Kampala and spread to the cities of Jinja and Masaka.
Tension had been building in Uganda over the conduct of political campaigns, since the electoral commission said earlier this month that the number of people at political meetings shouldn’t exceed 200. Critics said the guidelines favor President Museveni, partly because he dominates prime time on radio and television. Police had warned it would enforce the directives.
Television footage showed barricades and burned tires on the streets of Kampala as protesters chanted Bobi Wine’s name and called for his release. Fellow opposition leader Kizza Besigye said multiple people had been killed by the police and military.
Police detained Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, at a rally he was attending Wednesday in eastern Uganda. The authorities have repeatedly arrested the 38-year-old politician, a vocal critic of Museveni’s more than three-decade rule.
Separately, police in Gulu city in northern Uganda briefly arrested Patrick Amuriat, the presidential candidate for the nation’s biggest opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change. He was released after a few hours of being held on Wednesday.
“The arrests, as anticipated by our Joint Intelligence components, sparked off incidents of violent demonstrations,” police said in its statement.
Other presidential candidates including Mugisha Muntu, a former army commander, and Henry Tumukunde, who previously served as Museveni’s security chief suspended their campaign activities because of the arrests. Muntu in a tweet that the status quo will remain until freedom for all contestants is guaranteed.
Museveni, 76, came to power in January 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war. He became eligible to run in the Jan. 14 election after parliament, which is dominated by ruling party lawmakers, abolished an age limit of 75 years for presidential candidates. Lawmakers in 2005 scrapped a two-term limit for presidents, allowing Museveni, who first ruled for 10 years without being elected, to prolong his stay in power.
“We call upon the government to recognize that this isn’t business as usual,” Muntu said.
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