Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Uganda: Bobi Wine says bodyguard was killed in violence ahead of poll | Uganda News

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Francis Senteza has died amid violent clashes between security forces and supporters of the singer and opposition leader.

A bodyguard for Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine was killed and two journalists injured on Sunday during violent clashes between security forces and supporters of the singer and lawmaker who defy the country’s longtime leader.

A tearful Bobi Wine, real name Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said his bodyguard died of his injuries after he was allegedly run over by a truck belonging to military police.

The victim, Francis Senteza, was assaulted while helping transport a journalist injured in an earlier clash between police and a group of Bobi Wine supporters, he said.

Authorities did not immediately respond to the allegation that Senteza’s death was deliberate murder.

Bobi Wine was campaigning in parts of central Uganda on Sunday where he enjoys considerable support. As his convoy tried to move from one rally to another, police fired tear gas into the crowd, injuring at least two journalists.

Cameraman Ashraf Kasirye, a member of a television crew that follows Bobi Wine wherever he goes, sustained serious head injuries.

“We are hopeful that he will live,” Bobi Wine said of Kasirye on Twitter.

Another journalist, Ali Mivule of the local TV station NTV, was injured after a tear gas canister hit his leg, according to his employer. It was said that his condition was stable.

Police said in a statement that while trying to quell clashes with Bobi Wine supporters, “journalists were unfortunately caught up in the process of dispersing the violent group.”

Kasirye is in critical condition after being apparently struck by a tear gas canister, he said.

The three victims are the latest victims of election-related violence, with Ugandan security forces accused of trying to prevent Bobi Wine from holding loud public rallies.

Uganda faces increasing pressure from the international community and human rights watchdogs to respect human rights ahead of polls scheduled for January 14.

Campaign launched

The arrest last week of prominent human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo on criminal charges added to what some critics see as a crackdown on civic leaders, activists , journalists and suspected political opponents.

President Yoweri Museveni, who has held power since 1986, faces the daunting challenge of Bobi Wine, which appeals to young people who want to see a change of government.

Museveni’s government is frequently criticized by the opposition for corruption and widespread unemployment in urban centers. Bobi Wine has repeatedly urged Museveni to retire, saying he will guarantee his safety.

The events of Bobi Wine’s campaign are increasingly affected by violent clashes with the authorities and he has been arrested on several occasions by the police who accuse him of attempting to disrupt public order.

Election authorities on Saturday banned Campaign events in some urban areas, including the capital Kampala, citing an urgent need to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The move has been criticized by some who see it as a ploy to prevent opposition figures from showing support in areas where the ruling party is not so popular.

Museveni is in a position to seek more time in power after lawmakers lifted the latest constitutional hurdle – age limits – to a possible life presidency for the 76-year-old leader.

Uganda has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power since independence from Great Britain in 1962.


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