Uganda Court Frees Jailed Rapper Presidential Candidate After Arrest Sparks Riots and Leaves 37 Dead

Africa

The East African nation of 42.7 million was plunged into deadly violence this week as news of the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, stage name Bobi Wine, spread among his supporters. Mr. Wine, a candidate in the country’s forthcoming presidential elections, was arrested Wednesday and charged with flouting coronavirus restrictions.

A court in Uganda released presidential candidate and musician Robert “Bobi Wine” Ssentamu on bail Friday following two days of deadly protests demanding his release, local media have reported.

His detention sparked widespread unrest, with supporters in the capital city Kampala and other urban areas setting up barricades and burning tires and trash in the streets, prompting the government to deploy the military and to introduce curfews, with the unrest leading to the death of 37 people, according to police.

Police accused protesters of engaging in mass violence, vandalism, looting, and intimidation against Ssentamu’s opponents, and arrested 577 people, seizing makeshift weapons including bows and arrows, fuel drums, and what authorities said was evidence of payments to rioters. The military remains on high alert, and has promised to “respond quickly and effectively to any incident of criminality across levels” if unrest continues.

Ssentamu is widely considered the most popular opposition candidate among the dozen-or-so people seeking to challenge 76-year-old incumbent…

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