Several people killed and dozens wounded as police fire tear gas and bullets to disperse presidential candidate’s supporters, who are protesting against his arrest.
Ugandan police have said three people died and 38 were wounded in protests that erupted after police arrested presidential candidate Bobi Wine in the east of the country.
Police in the capital Kampala fired tear gas and bullets to disperse Bobi Wine’s supporters, who blocked roads and burned tyres after news broke that he had been arrested in the town of Luuka and taken to a police station in the city of Jinja.
Irene Nakasiita, Uganda Red Cross spokeswoman, describes scenes of “panic”, while Evarest Kayongo, chairman of the Kampala City Traders Association, said it was “total chaos” in the city.
“The streets are empty … We have closed business because of tear gas and bullets,” he said.
Rosebell Kagumire, editor of digital platform African Feminism, said tear gas and bullets could be heard in different parts of Kampala throughout the day, but things had calmed down by the evening.
“It wasn’t just in the middle of the city but different neighbourhoods [too],” Kagumire told Al Jazeera. “But also, outside of Kampala different towns were also engulfed in some level of protest calling for the release of Bobi Wine.”
Kagumire added: “Things are tense. People are worried and we don’t know what’s coming next.”
It came after the Twitter account of Bobi Wine, a musician turned opposition leader, said police had violently broken into his vehicle and taken him into custody.
“The price of freedom is high but we shall certainly overcome,” said in one of the tweets.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga said Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was arrested for violating COVID-19 guidelines that require presidential candidates to meet or address less than 200 people.
“Bobi has been arrested this morning in Luuka town, but we do not know his whereabouts right now,” the politician’s brother, opposition activist Fred Nyanzi, told the news agency dpa.
“We have not been allowed to see him and we don’t know what is happening,” asserted Joel Ssenyonyi, the spokesman for Bobi Wine’s political party, the National Unity Platform.