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 and 49 arrested in the clash at the home compound of Wine, 38, also a singer and musician who has parlayed his relative youth and upbringing in a slum into a popular following against 75-year-old President Yoweri Museveni.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, aims to end Museveni’s 34-year-old authoritarian grip on power that has made him Africa’s third longest-ruling president.
Wine was detained near a venue where he was certified as a candidate by 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 after his arrest.
Police moved in, firing tear gas and rubber bullets as well as some live rounds over the heads of the crowd, and at least 15 people were injured, aides to Wine told Reuters by phone.
In a statement, police said Wine was taken into custody because he had plans for “holding illegal processions” as he left the nomination venue. They said eight people were injured in skirmishes between security personnel and opposition supporters, while 49 were arrested.
Wine’s youthful energy, music and humble origins have struck a chord among the many young in Uganda’s 42 million population, unnerving the ruling party and leading to repeated arrests of Wine and his loyalists for allegedly threatening public order.
“…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…dictatorship,” Wine said in a speech before his arrest.
Don Wanyama, Museveni’s spokesman, did not respond on Tuesday 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, impoverished Ugandans, and he has repeatedly urged Museveni to retire.
Museveni was cleared to run in the elections on Monday. Elections are scheduled for February next year.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Heinrich)