Ugandan Bobi Wine Protests: International community and global scrutiny intensifies after an officially estimated 37 persons were killed by Ugandan security personnel.
On Wednesday 18th November 2020, Bobi Wine was brutally arrested while addressing a campaign crowd of supporters in the Eastern central district of Naluunya not far from Jinja the source of river Nile.
Bobi wine had spent over seven days campaigning across the northern part of the country visiting three districts in a day, due to the short time table imposed by the highly criticised Electoral commission. The commission is accused of not being in control of the electoral process.
Earlier in Tororo a ruling party officer called Tanga Odoi, was accused of blocking Bobi Wine’s campaign. In a tweet an NUP spokesperson stated that, ‘It appears police is now under the command of a one Tanga Odoi, the NRM Electoral Commission Chairman. The impunity in this country is so sickening. We need A New Uganda!’
Another official, a woman called Kasule Lumumba, is alleged to have stated that, “The moment Bobi Wine comes back in Kampala, he should be detained and not allowed to move anywhere,” Kasule advises. “If he has managed to get all those people upcountry where we all expected that he had no support now what will happen in Kampala?,” she asks.
There were immediate spontaneous protests across the country which were responded to by killings, mass arrests (including some journalists and one was sprayed with pepper spray directly in the eyes) use of live bullets by the Ugandan Army, (UPDF) in concert with unknown persons, in civilian attire carrying guns, police and paramilitaries, some of whom were shooting randomly into crowds and in buildings.
Bobi Wine earlier had been officially nominated, by the electoral commission on 3rd November 2020 as the official NUP candidate. While still on the premises he was violently attacked with his body guards and aides by a group led by a man called Agume(in picture below).
The United Nations, the United States and other entities condemned the jailing, violence and killing of innocent civilians. ‘’Political parties, actors and government leaders should work in a way that will ensure a peaceful election,’’ said Stephane Dujarric while addressing the press.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said the Ugandan government should respect domestic rights and stop brutality against her citizens.
Joseph Borrell, who doubles as the European Commission Vice president, said the loss of life in violent incidents in Uganda is saddening.
The United States
The United States’ Tibor Nagy @AsstSecStateAF, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs in a tweet stated that, ‘The Ugandan lives lost this week and the resulting suffering of their loved ones was needless and avoidable. Ugandans deserve peaceful, credible and inclusive elections. (1/2) The United States deplores the violence that has claimed multiple lives today, and we extend our sympathy to the victims’ families and loved ones. We urge all parties to renounce violence, undertake good-faith measures to reduce tensions, and respect fundamental freedoms.
@AsstSecStateAF The violence, intimidation, arrests and the use of force against the political opposition this week undermines the right of all Ugandans to free and fair elections. We are watching and will weigh consequences for those responsible for violence and election irregularities. (2/2)’
An online international group called anonymous claims to have taken down the official Ugandan police force website. In a tweet, it stated, Anonymous@YourAnonCentral Nov 20 #Uganda: Anonymous has taken down @PoliceUg‘s website in response to recent violent government repression & killings. Anonymous calls for police to respect human lives & the freedom of peaceful assembly and protest. #UgandaIsBleeding #ugandanlivesmatter’
Ugandan Civil society, clergy and lawyers
In signs of increasing chorus of strong condemnation, there was uniform condemnation of the killings and shootings of civilians by Ugandan security personnel and paramilitaries. The church clerics in a summon called the events on the 18th Nov.2020 a violation of the Ugandan Constitution and questioned whether this was an attempt to subvert a free and fair election.
Chamisa, a critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, called out President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is seeking to extend his rule to four decades for entrenching his ‘dictatorial habits’ in Uganda.
‘’Dictatorship must go, young people must save and serve Africa. Real change is unstoppable, #PeoplePower,’’ read the tweet by Chamisa.
Uganda’s Kizza Besigye called for the release of Bobi Wine, urging the people to remain firm and take actions to end ‘captivity’.
His South African counterpart, Mmusi Maimane called upon the African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa to urge his Ugandan counterpart, President Museveni to comply with the African charter on human and people’s rights and African Charter on democracy, elections and governance.
Uganda’s General Mugisha Muntu who is also a Presidential candidate with the Alliance for National Transformation party has paused his campaign activities until Bobi Wine is released and his freedom to campaign guaranteed.
In court, Bobi Wine stated that” I am not here because I committed a crime. I am here because I offered myself to lead Ugandans into ending 35 years of a dictatorship, “Today outside a court after being released he added that he is sad due to the killing of 37 people and arrests of around 500 who are still in Jail across the country. He made direct remarks that despite the killings, beatings they will carry on their quest to what he called the liberation of the country.
The court set conditions to 200 people in a campaign rally and procession not allowed before or after the campaigns. There are however has been strong criticism of the conditions set by the court as themselves illegal and designed to constrain the political campaign process and in contradiction of the freedom of association and expression. Other critics point to the incumbent party’s unfettered and unrestrained campaign processions without social distancing. Pointing out that the reason Bobi Wine’s rallies and his supporters are being attacked, is because of the huge support he attracts all over the country adding that the police appears more needlessly deadly than the Covid19 pandemic.
Speaking outside the court, after being released, Bobi wine was flanked with his legal team, spokesperson and spouse and scores of supporters who broke out into a song as they entered their cars to yet an unknown destination.
In other developments residents of the southern area of Kalungu demanded the immediate release of their NUP supporters who had neither been brought to court or given bail.
In response, the local police chief, Nsubuga chief indicated that those who test the resolve of the security services will face tough action.
Yesterday, Gen. EllyTumwine, a senior former army commander and bush war confidant of the 76 yr old incumbent, has been widely condemned for his comments to the media that appeared to explicitly condone the killing of unarmed civilians.
The country has a violent political history and has never seen a peaceful transfer of power from one president to the other. The incumbent who is almost 80 years old has been in power for almost 40yrs since 1986. He faces the stiffest challenge to date from Bobi Wine.
Bobi wine has since returned home to the jubilation of supporters and well wishers.
He paid tribute to the deceased and those who have remained firm and pledged to continue with their campaigns.