Uganda opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine arrested, police rout protesters

Elias Biryabarema
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Ugandan musician turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine addresses a news conference at his home in Kasangati, Kampala

Uganda opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine arrested, police rout protesters

FILE PHOTO: Ugandan musician turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine addresses a news conference at his home in Kasangati, Kampala

By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan police used rubber bullets, live rounds and tear gas to break up a protest by supporters of opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine after he was arrested on Tuesday following the filing of his nomination papers, aides and witnesses said.

At least 15 people were injured in the disturbances at the home compound of Wine, 38, also a musician who has parlayed his relative youth and upbringing in a slum into a popular following against veteran President Yoweri Museveni.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, aims to end Museveni's 35-year, increasingly authoritarian grip on power that has made him Africa's third longest-ruling president.

Wine was detained near a venue where nominations were being filed with the electoral body and then driven in a police van to his compound, which was full of what aides said were thousands of supporters who had gathered in protest at his arrest.

Police moved in, firing tear gas and rubber bullets as well as some live rounds over the heads of the crowd, aides to Wine told Reuters by phone.

"The situation is very volatile...A lot of people have been injured," an aide said from inside the compound. At least 15 people were injured from tear gas and rubber bullets, he said.

Police Spokesman Patrick Onyango said in a WhatsApp message there had been injuries and police would give details later. It was not immediately clear why Wine was arrested, as the election body had told him he met all the requirements for candidacy.

His youthful age, music and upbringing in a slum have earned him considerable popularity in the relatively young East African country of 42 million, unnerving Museveni's ruling party and drawing periodic security crackdowns on Wine's supporters.

"...Mr Museveni, since you have failed to control your greed and lust for power, our generation is determined to save you from yourself and stop your 35-year-old dictatorship," Wine said in a speech before his arrest.

Don Wanyama, Museveni's spokesman, did not respond to a Reuters call and texts requesting comment.

Wine has said that being "born hustling and born to hustling parents, raised in the ghettos", meant he could understand the struggles of ordinary Ugandans.

Since he expressed his presidential ambitions, police and the military have repeatedly dispersed his rallies, and beaten and detained his supporters.

Museveni was cleared to run in the elections on Monday. Elections are scheduled for February next year. [nL8N2HO336]

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Heinrich)