Protests erupted in Kampala on Friday, August 31, after the Ugandan government rearrested two opposition MPs as they attempted to seek medical treatment abroad. Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine) and Francis Zaake were arrested Thursday, August 30, at Entebbe International Airport (EBB). Both lawmakers are reportedly detained in Kampala hospitals, and are refusing access to government doctors. Wine’s lawyers say he was seeking medical treatment abroad for injuries allegedly caused by torture while he was previously detained.
The arrests spurred protests, particularly in Kampala suburb Kamwokya, where Wine was raised and owns several businesses. Protesters burned tires and built barricades in roads, creating transportation disruptions on access roads to Kampala. Anti-riot police and military personnel were deployed to clear barricades. There were no reports of widespread clashes between protesters and security forces, but a local journalist covering the protests was hospitalized Friday after allegedly being beaten by security personnel. Associated protests in Kampala and other Ugandan cities are expected in the coming days and weeks.
Bobi Wine, an opposition member of Uganda’s parliament, was arrested along with approximately 30 others on August 14 and charged with possession of illegal weapons after protesters threw stones at President Yoweri Museveni's convoy at a local election rally in Arua. Last week, military prosecutors dropped the illegal weapons charges against Wine, but a civilian court subsequently charged him with treason. According to Wine's lawyer, he was severely beaten while in custody and other opposition leaders have been arrested or prevented from leaving their homes by police in recent days, sparking major tensions. Police clashed with demonstrators in several parts of Kampala on August 20, firing tear gas and live ammunition on protesters who had erected roadblocks to denounce the arrests. Most recently, Wine was released on bail on August 27.
Individuals in Uganda, particularly in Kampala, are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public.
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