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Uganda Deploys More Troops As Death Toll From Protests Hits 28

Uganda’s military has increased deployment of troops in the capital, Kampala, and in major towns to counter protests that broke out following the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine.

The East African country will hold elections in January 2021, but the early weeks of campaigning have been marked by an alarming amount of violence.

On Friday, the East African country’s Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, announced that the death toll from violent protests in parts of Uganda after the arrest of opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, has risen to 28.

Enanga said 12 more people succumbed to their injuries sustained in the Wednesday and Thursday protests.

Authorities said at least 75 people were injured with bullet wounds, tear gas canisters and hit-and-run attacks.

“We would like to inform the public that a total of 28 people have died, following the violent political demonstrations in multiple areas since Wednesday,” Enanga said.

“The confrontations began after the arrest of Kyagulanyi due to his continued blatant disregard of the Electoral Commission guidelines, which were further escalated, after bloggers posted fake news that he had been killed,” the spokesman said.

Enanga said a total of 577 suspects had been arrested across the country, adding that bows and arrows, “piles of stocked tyres, bottles, drums of fuel and evidence of mobile money transactions funding the rioters” were seized.

“The violent demonstrations were being coordinated by a group of 300 ring leaders who were actively coordinating the distribution of tyres to their flash points and hotspots, using motor vehicles and boda bodas (commercial motorcycles),” he said.

Following the violence deputy army spokesperson, Colonel Deo Akiiki, has told the media that soldiers will be deployed at all major roads leading into the capital.

There will also be an increased security presence at sensitive areas such as fuel reservoirs and petrol stations.

A 21:00 local time curfew will be strictly enforced with immediate effect.

The curfew was already in place as a coronavirus safety measure, but the public were not strictly adhering to it.

Kyagulanyi’s arrest on Wednesday in the eastern district of Luuka for allegedly flouting COVID-19 guidelines sparked sporadic protests in some parts of the east African country.

“We will continue to work with all partners, to enforce laws prohibiting acts of violence,” Enanga said.

“The joint task force is committed to ensuring that all Ugandan’s freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner,” he said, referring to a multi-agency organ set up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We would like to warn those that are already drawn into the violent protests and those that are intending to join to reject such calls and remain law-abiding,” Enanga said.

Uganda’s Electoral Commission earlier this month cleared 11 presidential candidates, including incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, to run in the 2021 general elections.

The electoral body urged candidates to follow the strict COVID-19 guidelines, such as keeping the size of campaign rallies to no more than 200 people, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Since Wednesday, groups of young people have set up barricades, burnt tyres and piles of rubbish in the streets of Kampala and other towns.

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