Police fired tear gas to disperse supporters of opposition candidate Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine) in Kampala on Tuesday, November 3. National Unity Party (NUP) supporters had gathered at Nakawa market, close to the Kyambogo cricket ground, where the second day of presidential candidate nominations for next year's presidential election were taking place. There have also been unconfirmed reports of unrest in other areas in and around the capital. There have been unconfirmed reports of fatalities as police opened fire in Kyagulani's hometown of Magere (Wakiso district) outside Kampala and security forces also reportedly fired shots to disperse supporters in Kampala's Kisaasi neighborhood as the presidential nominee's convoy passed through the area.
Kyagulani was apprehended by police shortly after being cleared by the electoral commission to officially run in the election. He was briefly detained before being driven back to his residence. Earlier, another proposed presidential candidate, Patrick Amuriat, was detained at the headquarters of his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party in Najjanankumbi, before being taken to the nominations venue. Police fired tear gas outside the FDC office as officers attempted to block another FDC leader, Betty Aol Ochan, from entering the premises.
A heightened security presence has been deployed in Kyambogo due to the nominations and movement restrictions are in place. Further unrest is likely for the remainder of the day may result in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.
Political tensions in Uganda have been increasing ahead of the presidential election in 2021, after President Yoweri Museveni pushed through controversial constitutional reforms in December 2017 to remove the presidential age limit in a move widely seen as paving the way for him to stand for a sixth term in office. The debate around the proposed constitutional reforms was bitter with infighting within the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), regular protests and several opposition leaders being arrested. However, Museveni and his supporters, backed by a closely-aligned and powerful military, have largely succeeded in suppressing opposition to his candidacy within the NRM.
Having come to prominence during the constitutional reform campaign, Robert Kyagulanyi has become a major opposition talisman following his move into politics in 2017. The outspoken critic of Museveni has been arrested multiple times by security forces on charges related to anti-government protests, with arrests sparking unrest amongst his populist support base. After announcing his bid to run for President in the 2021 general election in 2019, he assumed leadership of the National Unity, Reconciliation and development Party and revamped it as the National Unity Platform, becoming the party's de facto presidential candidate.
Those in Kampala are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate a heightened security presence, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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