Seven people died and at least 45 were injured in protests that erupted after police arrested Ugandan presidential candidate and pop star Bobi Wine on Wednesday, Ugandan police said.
“As of yesterday evening we had seven people who lost their lives, about 45 people got injuries including an LDU (armed civilian force) whose head was smashed,” police spokesperson Fred Enanga said.
Mr Enanga claimed the National Unity Platform (NUP) led by Wine violated election guidelines issued to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The MP, real name Robert Kyagulanyi, is currently detained in Jinja following his arrest in Luuka where he had gone to campaign on Wednesday.
“But it (NUP) doesn’t have control over these demonstrators. They don’t have the ability to restore a situation that has gone out of hand and yet they’re promoting violence. This is unacceptable,” Mr Enanga told state-owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) on Thursday morning.
Mr Kyagulanyi was arrested alongside Jinja-based pastor Andrew Muwanguzi and five other supporters. They are currently being interrogated on charges of negligent conduct likely to spread the infectious disease, obstruction and holding unauthorised assembles.
Police said they had also recorded other crimes of looting, vandalism and robbery by other criminals taking advantage of the violent demonstrations.
Uganda Red Cross said Wednesday evening that their response team had rescued more than 30 people from the riots and referred them to various health facilities.
Mr Kyagulanyi was most recently arrested on November 3 moments after registering his candidacy for the January 14, 2021 presidential election, over accusations he was planning an illegal rally.
Nicknamed the ‘Ghetto President’, he has faced escalating police harassment since announcing his intention to challenge President Yoweri Museveni, who seized power at the head of a rebel army in 1986.
Mr Kyagulanyi's catchy pop songs about social justice, poverty and corruption have shaken the ruling party and its ageing patriarch Museveni, who at 76 is the only president most Ugandans have ever known.