Bobi Wine: Ugandan politician charged for breaking coronavirus rules

Ugandan MP and singer Bobi Wine appeared in court this week

image copyrightReuters

Ugandan presidential candidate Bobi Wine has been released on bail after being charged with spreading coronavirus.

The court ruled on Friday after Mr Wine, 38, held a large rally this week.

Human rights groups say the virus charge is a pretext to suppress political opposition ahead of the 14 January election.

Protests broke out and 37 people died in clashes when the politician, also a pop star, was arrested this week.

Human Rights Watch says it is clear that the Ugandan authorities are using Covid-19 guidelines to repress opposition and that the governing party has held large campaign events.

In June Bobi Wine vowed to defy a ban on holding campaign rallies during the pandemic. He accused President Museveni of “fearing the people”, suggesting the prohibition was motivated by politics.

Bobi Wine’s arrest on Wednesday outraged his supporters. Groups of young people set up barricades, burnt tyres and piles of rubbish in the streets of the capital Kampala and other towns.

The aggressive police response to the protests has shocked the country, says the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire in Kampala.

It is the worst violence to erupt on the streets of Uganda since Bobi Wine was nominated as a presidential candidate, she adds.

Following the unrest, the authorities have increased security. They say soldiers will be placed at major roads leading into Kampala and a 21:00 curfew will be strictly enforced.

During the more than three decades that President Museveni has been in power, he has routinely been accused of using violence against his political rivals. He has always denied such charges.

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