News Alerts

18 Nov 2020 | 06:00 PM UTC

Three die amid nationwide protests following arrest of presidential candidate November 18

Uganda News Alert

Three die and dozens injured amid nationwide protests following arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi on November 18; avoid protests and large gatherings

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/18/2020, 12:00 AM until 11/20/2020, 11:59 PM (Africa/Kampala). COUNTRY/REGION Uganda

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Event

Three people were killed and more than 30 injured in nationwide protests on Wednesday, November 18, as unrest broke out following the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, known as musician Bobi Wine, during an election rally. Kyagulanyi staged a rally in Luuka district (Eastern Uganda region) on Wednesday. He had been scheduled to address his supporters but police accused Kyagulanyi of breaching coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions on gatherings of more than 200 people. He is currently being detained at Nalufenya police station in Jinja district. It is not clear where the fatalities occurred, but earlier reports on Wednesday suggested live ammunition had been used in Kampala against protesters who'd gathered in the Kiseka Market area of the city. 

Further protests in Kampala and across Uganda are possible in the coming hours and days over Kyagulanyi's arrest and subsequent clashes between opposition demonstrators and security forces are likely to occur.

Context

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.

Advice

Those in Kampala and across Uganda 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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