At least 16 people have died in Uganda following violent protests over the arrest of presidential candidate and pop star Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine.
65 others have been injured from gun shots and tear gas fired by the Ugandan police.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the police said some 350 people have been arrested over the clashes.
The statement said the Police arrested Wine while campaigning in the country’s east for violating anti-coronavirus measures.
“He is involved in the massive mobilization of unauthorized assemblies and processions amidst the threat of COVID-19 in Uganda”, the statement said.
Reports suggest that the death toll could rise in the coming days.
Bobi Wine has emerged as the strongest challenger against 76 year old President Yoweri Museveni, in the presidential election scheduled for January 14.
His arrest sparked violent protests in the capital Kampala and other major towns.
In many parts of Kampala, irate youth demanding his release lit fires and erected barricades on roads, trying to block traffic.
The police and military personnel fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse them.
According to the Police in Uganda, Bobi Wine violated Covid-19 safety measures on public gatherings.
The police said he didn’t comply with the guidelines given by the electoral commission, local media reported.
His twitter account handled by his aides said on Thursday that “More than 24 hours after his brutal arrest & detention in Nalufenya, Bobi Wine has been denied access to his lawyers & his medical team! Only army & police officers have access to him.
The violation of his rights with impunity must be condemned by all persons of good conscience.”
More than 24 hours after his brutal arrest & detention in Nalufenya, Bobi Wine has been denied access to his lawyers & his medical team! Only army & police officers have access to him. The violation of his rights with impunity must be condemned by all persons of good conscience.
— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) November 19, 2020
The United States has condemned the ongoing violence following arrest of Bobi Wine.
It said in a statement that it “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/FewY3RgMNw
— U.S. Mission Uganda (@usmissionuganda) November 18, 2020
Meanwhile, opposition presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns, calling for fellow contestants to be released.
We havebdecided 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 pic.twitter.com/1VFQlSw5ks
— Mugisha Muntu (@mugishamuntu) November 18, 2020
•Free Hon Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) NOW.
•Free Ugandans NOW!
•Ugandans: remain firm &take actions to end captivity NOW.
•@IntlCrimCourt Please process petition of Ugandans; more generous crimes underway!
•Those funding the Rogue NRM/M7 Junta must stop. STOP ODIOUS DEBTS. pic.twitter.com/aM527At2D1
— Kifefe Kizza-Besigye (@kizzabesigye1) November 19, 2020
I also call on the @_AfricanUnion and it’s chairperson @CyrilRamaphosa to talk to his friends @edmnangagwa and @KagutaMuseveni and tell them to comply with
1. The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,
2. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) November 19, 2020
Ugandans will vote in a general election on January 14, 201 to elect a president and members of parliament.