No fewer than three people have died in violence that erupted after the police in Uganda arrested the presidential candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party on Wednesday.
Robert Kyagulanyi, a former reggae musician known by his stagename Bobi Wine, was arrested by the police for breaching COVID-19 safety protocols during his campaign rally.
The police, in a statement, said over 30 people were injured in the chaos, but did not say how the three people died.
Videos and photos have been circulating on social media, showing people covered in blood, some seemingly unresponsive, apparently shot dead.
Wine was first arrested in 2018 and briefly detained last month when he registered as a presidential candidate. He is currently being held in Nalufenya prison in Jinja, a detention center previously notorious for torture of suspects.
Sporadic protests had broken out in Kampala and other towns, as Bobi Wine’s supporters called for his release.
Another opposition candidate, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, has also been arrested.
His rallies and events have been blocked by police on several occasions.
Uganda will hold presidential elections in January and, so far, campaigns have been marked by police violently enforcing pandemic restrictions.
Edward Ochom, the assistant inspector general of police, also noted that authorities have repeatedly cautioned political groups against acts of civil disobedience, such as holding unauthorized campaign events, burning tires, deflating tires on police vehicles, and engaging in provocative behavior toward law enforcement personnel.
However, he said, such acts of defiance continue.
“We have, therefore, adopted a tougher approach to preserve the integrity of the electoral process,” Ochom said.
“We have dispatched our specialist teams and quick reaction teams to identify ringleaders and principals for the apprehension in the face of crime. We have disseminated our comprehensive policing plan to all territorial commanders for them to implement without fear or favour.”
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