Authorities in Uganda apologise for soldiers beating journos and protesters

Bobi Wine. Picture: AFP PHOTO.

A spokesperson for the military said soldiers responsible for the crimes will be arrested, and that their conduct was unlawful and therefore unacceptable. 

Authorities in Uganda have apologised for soldiers beating journalists and demonstrators in Kampala on Monday, reports EWN.

A spokesperson for the military said soldiers responsible for the crimes will be arrested, and that their conduct was unlawful and therefore unacceptable.

Ugandan police and soldiers closed off parts of Kampala on Monday, following demonstrations calling for the release of prominent opposition lawmaker Bobi Wine.

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Demonstrators set fire to piles of tyres and wooden pallets, blocking traffic, and lobbed stones at policemen while supporters cheered their encouragement from shopping arcade balconies, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Protesters put set a bonfire on a street to demand the release of the Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi known as Bobi Wine who was recently arrested for treason and possession of firearms in Kampala, Uganda, on August 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Wine, a popstar-turned-politician, was one of five MPs arrested last Monday, on the eve of a parliamentary by-election in Arua. This comes after a convoy transporting President Yoweri Museveni was pelted with stones by the arrested MPs’ supporters.

The arrest of Wine, a critic of the long-serving president, angered Ugandans, and protests ensued as a result of his ongoing detention.

“Having all those police and army shooting teargas and bullets and using batons against us shows you that the govenment is really scared of Bobi Wine,” said Henry Kinaro, 28, a secondhand shoe seller.

“The soldiers chose people randomly whether you supported the protest or not and they beat them.”

Heavily-armed police in anti-riot gear and soldiers took control of the streets around the bustling Kireka market.

Armoured personnel carriers were positioned at key intersections as security forces ordered members of the public to evacuate city blocks.

Hundreds of market traders and passers-by winced in fear as they were ordered to walk in single file with their hands raised by baton-wielding soldiers.

On Nasser Road, a hub for printers and stationers, soldiers forced hundreds of people to kneel in the street with their hands up while they patrolled the area.

Amid chaotic scenes, members of the public used scarfs and tee-shirts to shield their eyes and mouths from the clouds of teargas and black smoke that hung in the narrow streets between shopping arcades while shopkeepers rushed to seal their doors.

Reuters photographer James Akena said he was detained for several hours after being beaten by soldiers.

“I was just standing holding my camera near to the protest. Suddenly there were many soldiers hitting me. I have some bruises and my hand is swollen. They still have my camera and I don’t know when I’ll get it back,” he said.

Lawyers and family members say that Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is in urgent need of medical attention after being beaten by security forces during his arrest.

But in a weekend statement, Museveni, 74, said this was “fake news” and accused the MP of forming “indisciplined groups” and intimidating ruling party voters in what he said was “terrorism”.

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