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Police arrest Ugandan pop-star MP Bobi Wine, supporters teargassed2 minutes read

Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed that Wine and members of his entourage had been arrested.

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Police arrest Ugandan pop-star MP Bobi Wine, supporters teargassed
Singer turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine. (Photo by SUMY SADURNI / AFP)

Singer-turned-politician Bobi Wine was on Monday arrested by the police as he sought to kick off public meetings ahead of presidential elections next year.

Many of his supporters were also sprayed teargas by policemen who tried to disperse the crowd in the capital, Kampala.

Wine, a popular figure among young Ugandans, announced last year he would challenge President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 elections, and on Monday was scheduled to begin a week-long series of consultations ahead of the vote.

But the first event at a Catholic Church in his constituency in Kampala could not proceed as police deployed before dawn to the site, prompting protests by his supporters, a reporter said.

Protesters set alight car tyres and blocked roads, while police backed by firefighters, armoured cars and water cannon used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed that Wine and members of his entourage had been arrested.

“We are temporarily holding them in our police station in Kasangati. We shall have to release them at some later stage but we are looking at charges of holding an unlawful assembly and disobedience of lawful orders,” Enanga told reporters.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has already been detained a number of times.

He has had numerous attempts to hold concerts blocked since he was elected as an MP in 2017.

Enanga said Wine planned to exceed what is allowed under Uganda’s election laws by “going early and conducting campaigns” as opposed to holding “consultations.”

Under Uganda’s 2000 election law presidential “aspirants” may carry out “nationwide consultation” in the 12 months ahead of their official nomination as candidates. 

The law requires aspirants to “introduce” themselves to the Electoral Commission (EC) and notify local authorities of events planned in their area.

On December 3 Wine sent a letter to the EC officially introducing himself and outlining his plans, which he published on social media. 

In the past, the police have warned opposition politicians that all events must also comply with the Public Order Management Act 2013. 

Human Rights Watch has criticised that law as granting the police “wide discretionary powers over the content and management of public meetings.” 

Wine has built a sizeable following among Uganda’s booming urban youth population, many of whom say they are tired of Museveni’s long rule.

Museveni seized power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 and many observers say they doubt he will ever give up power through democratic elections. 

Veteran opposition leader Kizza Besigye may also run for the fifth consecutive time. 

In previous election rounds, police routinely blocked Besigye from holding political events. 

The authorities have charged both opposition leaders with various criminal offences which are entangled in Uganda’s judicial system.

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Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement

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Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.

The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.

“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.

AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.

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Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad

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Over 2,500 Ugandan nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic can now return home as approved by the Ugandan cabinet.

The cabinet on Monday, agreed that Ugandan nationals trapped in 66 countries can return home at their own cost.

The government is making arrangements with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to fly the stranded citizens home, Judith Nabakooba, the country’s minister for information, communication technology and national guidance says, adding that all the returning citizens will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine. 

President Yoweri Museveni last month, directed Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to study the possibility of evacuating dozens of citizens stranded abroad amid Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions. 

To contain the spread of Covid-19, the country on March 22 suspended all incoming flights, except cargo flights. 

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Border closure hurts Tanzania’s horticultural exports

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A border closure between Tanzania and Kenya has hit Dar es Salaam’s horticulture sector due to long delays at the crossing for fresh produce truckers, resulting in a disruption of the supply chain.

Horticulture is one of Tanzania’s economic pillars.

This past week, Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) Chief Executive, Jacqueline Mkindi asked the governments of Tanzania and Kenya to resolve the border issue for the sake of an already struggling exports industry.

Most of Tanzania’s horticulture produce is exported through Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). “If this tug of war continues, we’ll be the first to suffer as we still rely on JKIA and the port in Mombasa to export crops whose routes are not open from Tanzania,” Mkindi adds. “Our government has all along been considerate to horticulture. We advise it to embark on economic negotiations with Kenya to allow cargo to continue crossing borders smoothly.”

After an international aviation halt, the TAHA signed a deal with Ethiopian Airlines.

Despite the deal with Ethiopian Airlines to ferry fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers to global markets from Kilimanjaro International Airport, the airline has still not been granted long-term landing permits.

Currently, TAHA has to apply for a landing warrant for every incoming flight at routine airport charges and has to attach backup documents each time.

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