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Uganda: Death toll climbs to 29 after deadly protests

Reports early Friday, November 20, indicated that the countrywide death toll has climbed to 29 in three days of protests in Uganda triggered by the arrest of musician-turned-presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine.

The deaths occurred during security operations, Ugandan police said in a statement, adding that at least 65 people had been injured and about 350 arrested.

 

Ugandan media reports indicate that men dressed in civilian clothes armed with assault rifles were seen patrolling city streets and also fired bullets at protesters and anyone taking their pictures.

 

It is reported to be the worst violence to erupt on the streets of Ugandan cities since Bobi Wine was nominated as a presidential candidate.

 

The National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate was arrested - for violating Covid-19 restrictions, according to police - in Luuka District on Wednesday. Ensuing mass protests in the country have paralysed transport and business.

The musician is among 11 candidates challenging President Yoweri Museveni - in power since 1986 - in the presidential election which will be held on January 14 next year.

Four other presidential candidates; (Rtd) Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, (Rtd) Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, Norbert Mao and Fred Mwesigye have suspended their campaigns in solidarity with Bobi Wine.

The NUP candidate was, by Friday morning, still detained at Nalufenya Police Station, in Jinja.

During the protests across the country, security forces were filmed firing tear gas and live bullets to disperse people in the capital, Kampala.

Angry demonstrators are seen burning tyres and rubbish in the streets and blockading roads in the city.

More about the pop star turned presidential candidate

The pop star beat candidates from the main political parties - the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) - in last year's by-election to become a member of parliament.

Bobi Wine, whose official name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, began his music career in the early 2000s.

The self-declared "ghetto president" who rose to fame in a poor Kampala district of Kamwokya, where he grew up, often describes his craft as "edutainment" - or entertainment that educates.

Among others, Bobi Wine was recently a leading critic of the NRM's push to scrap the constitutional upper age limit, set at 75, for presidential candidates, which gave leeway for the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term.

Museveni is 76.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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