Ugandan protests death toll hits seven, US in peace push

By People Daily
Friday, November 20th, 2020
Bobi Wine’s supporters protest in Kampala streets, calling for his release from police detention. Photo/BBC
In summary

Kampala, Thursday

The death toll from Wednesday’s protests against the arrest of Ugandan presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, has risen to seven, police say.

A spokesperson has told the BBC that more than 40 people had also been injured in the protests.

Police have still not explained the cause of the deaths or the nature of the injuries.

Graphic videos and photos shared on social media showed several people lying in the streets covered in blood, allegedly shot dead.

A Uganda Red Cross statement said their frontline workers had assisted 11 people with gunshot wounds.

Meanwhile, opposition presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns, calling for fellow contestants to be released.

Retired army generals Mugisha Muntu and Henry Tumukunde also demanded that police stop violence against candidates and the public.

Campaign events for several opposition candidates have been broken up or blocked by the police.

Bobi Wine was arrested at a campaign rally in the east of the country on Wednesday.

The police bundled him into a van, claiming that he had drawn a crowd larger than the 200 people recommended by the Electoral Commission, as a Coronavirus prevention measure.

His lawyers say he has yet to be charged.

And by yesterday, teargas and live bullets have been fired in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to disperse people protesting against the arrest of Bobi Wine. There is a heavy police presence in different parts of the city. 

In some of the streets in the city centre, roads have been blocked with burning tyres and piles of rubbish on some streets in the central business district

Traders were closing their premises and coming out in hundreds, hands in the air, trying to make it past the security forces.

A plain-clothed, stick-wielding squad was also seen chasing and beating people.

Security forces were entering some of the shopping malls to chase people out, or firing tear gas inside to smoke them out.

Bobi Wine’s supporters are calling for him to be released from police detention.

He was arrested at a campaign rally in the east of the country on Wednesday and the police are accusing him of flouting Coronavirus prevention guidelines against drawing crowds.

Police have said seven people died, and dozens were injured, in protests on Wednesday.

International community, including the US has condemned the violence that gripped Kampala, and other major towns following the arrest of Bobi Wine, who was arrested during an election rally in the eastern district of Luuka after being accused of violating Coronavirus guidelines set by the electoral commission. 

The US mission there has urged “all parties to renounce violence” and to undertake measures to reduce tensions.

US Mission Uganda tweeting under the harshtag @usmissionuganda said:

“The United States deplores the violence that has claimed multiple lives today, and we extend our sympathy to the victims’ families and loved ones.

  We urge all parties to renounce violence, undertake good-faith measures to reduce tensions, and respect fundamental freedoms.”

Uganda will hold presidential elections in January.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate, Mugisha Muntu, has suspended campaigns until other opposition candidates who were arrested on Wednesday are released.

Muntu called for the release of Bobi Wine, and Patrick Amuriat. The two candidates were arrested separately during their campaigns.

Muntu asked the government not to be reckless during the campaign period as the situation was volatile: “We have decided to pause our presidential campaign activities until our colleagues, @HEBobiwine and @PatrickAmuriat are released and their freedom to campaign guaranteed. We call upon government to recognise that this isn’t business as usual. #ChangeIsComing #CountryBeforeSelf.” -BBC