Uganda Presidential Challengers Register for Election Amid Tear Gas, Heavy Security

Uganda’s opposition candidates registered for next year’s presidential election on Tuesday with heavy security and the brief detention of musician turned politician Bobi Wine. Wine was taken into custody just minutes after he registered to challenge President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 34 years.

Excitement, cheers, and a heavy security presence marked the day for politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known by his stage name, Bobi Wine.

Wine got into his car Tuesday morning, headed for the national electoral commission in Kampala.

Authorities gave him a specific route to take and a convoy of five police trucks, four police motorcycles, two military trucks and one police Subaru made sure he didn’t stray.

Along the route, crowds gathered by sides of the road, cheering him on. At one point, when the crowds grew big, police threw a tear gas can inside the car he shared with his wife.

Breathing heavily, Wine spoke to VOA at a stop over.

“Well, we are soldiering on, we are trying to get to the nomination center, but every now and then the police stops us,” he said.

Wine arrived at the nomination center a little after 11:00am. After he was officially nominated to run in the presidential election, Electoral Commission Chairman Simon Byabakama asked Wine to refrain from waving to his supporters through his car roof.

“Processions along public roads are prohibited. Secondly, as an aspirant, we expect you to take personal responsibility towards your supporters, as well as yourself by discouraging them in gathering in large numbers,” Byabakama said.

In his nomination speech, Wine took a swipe at President Yoweri Museveni, saying it’s time to stop lamenting and act against what he called injustices, impunity and oppression in the country.

“Mr. Museveni, since you have failed to control your greed and lust for power, our generation is determined to save you from yourself and stop your 35-year-old dictatorship.  In this election, I am representing the weak, I am representing the poor, I am representing the downtrodden, I am representing those that have been excluded from the system which works only for the few,” Wine said.

On his way back home, Wine was removed from his car and driven in a police van to an unknown destination until later when he was taken home. More tear gas was shot to disperse the crowds.

Wine was not the only one who faced the wrath of security agents on this day.

Forum for Democratic Change Presidential candidate Patrick Oboi Amuriat was picked up from the party offices with no shoes and taken to the nomination center.

Oboi says walking barefoot was not his choice but shows the kind of dictatorship the opposition is up against.

“Today, I came to this nomination a prisoner. While trying to access my office to get vital documents, I was kidnapped by the security forces, forced into a saloon vehicle, brutalized,” Oboi said.

As the nominations close, eight challengers have registered to compete against Museveni in the February presidential election.

 

 

Source: Voice of America