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Uganda: Bobi Wine suspends presidential campaign after violence

By The Africa Report
Posted on Wednesday, 2 December 2020 16:35

Bobi Wine points to where his car was shot at, narrowly missing his driver (Twitter/ @HEBobiwine)

Presidential hopeful, Kyagulyanyi Ssentamu Robert, and musician, popularly known as Bobi Wine, has suspended his electoral campaign after members of his campaign team were wounded and his car shot following clashes between security personnel and his supporters.

He’s been arrested multiple times, seen dozens of his supporters killed or injured by Ugandan authorities and on Tuesday, had his security personnel and car shot at by rubber bullets and tear gas to stop him from attending a rally.

The vicious crackdown on Bobi Wine finally reached a limit.

As one reporter tweeted: “Only Zimbabwe 2008 comes close to the level of violence seen.”

“With effect from today, I am suspending my campaign until further notice,” Wine said on Wednesday while addressing a news conference near the capital Kampala.

“We are going to the electoral commission headquarters to inquire why we are being tortured by security institutions… our campaign is affected by police brutality.”

Local and foreign media are also being stifled ahead of the country’s polls.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Uganda’s press freedom index for 2020 ranked 125 out of 180 countries. 

Museveni’s government continues to be accused of suppressing Ugandan journalists through arrests, intimidation and attacks “especially against those covering the campaign of opposition candidate Bobi Wine,” reported CBC.

Opposition parties and election observers say voting come January is unlikely to be free or fair.

Museveni for life?

Since 2017, Bobi Wine entered politics with the aim of ending the decades-long rule of 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni after he changed the law to remove age limits that would bar from him running in the upcoming elections.

The longtime ruler is set to run for a sixth term in the general elections set for 14 January 2021.

Tuesday’s outbreak comes after Wine was arrested on 18 November unleashing a major crackdown of his supporters who hit the streets demanding his release.

54 people were killed during those protests.

At the time, authorities said he was arrested for allegedly participating in “unauthorised assemblies and processions amidst the threat of COVID-19 in Uganda,” said police spokesman CP Fred Enanga, in a statement.

During a televised speech on Sunday, President Museveni announced that those who were killed during the protests after Wine’s arrest would be compensated.

Looking to 2021

Although Wine says his campaign is suspended “until further notice,”  it’s likely he will push ahead.

This period close to elections is a repeated pattern in Uganda.  Its campaign periods follow the same mold of candidates and their supporters withstanding state intimidation and pressure, or stepping down, leaving the door wide open for Museveni.

The 76 year-old incumbent president has essentially pushed out all other viable candidates.

Kizza Besigye opted out of the 2021 elections, leaving 38 year-old Wine as the most visible opposition figure in the race – until Wednesday. Others on the ballot include former army commander Mugisha Muntu, Nancy Linda Kalembe, the only female on the ballot, and John Katumba, a 24-year-old.

READ MORE Uganda: Can Bobi Wine unseat Yoweri Museveni?

Wine, however, has received the full attention of Museveni crackdown.

Speaking via a live facebook feed last week on Friday, Wine told his supporters to ‘not listen to what Mr Museveni tells you that we are funded by foreigners; we are funded by Ugandans who feel that we are on the right course. Fighting a dictator is not easy because today he will blackmail you that you are violent and the other day he will say you are funded by foreigners.”

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