A bodyguard for Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine was killed and two journalists injured yesterday, amid violent confrontations between security forces and followers of the singer and lawmaker who is challenging the country’s long-time leader.
A tearful Mr Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said his bodyguard had died of his injuries after allegedly being run over by a truck belonging to the military police.
The victim, Francis Senteza, was attacked while helping to transport a journalist injured in an earlier confrontation between police and a group of Mr Wine’s supporters, he said.
The Ugandan army spokesperson, Flavia Byekwaso, disputed Mr Wine’s version of events, saying Mr Senteza fell while trying to jump into a speeding car.
Mr Wine was campaigning yesterday in parts of central Uganda where he has considerable support. As his convoy tried to proceed from one rally to the next, police fired tear gas into the crowd, injuring at least two journalists.
Cameraman Ashraf Kasirye, a member of a TV crew that follows Mr Wine wherever he goes, suffered a serious head injury.
“We are hoping against hope that he will live,” Mr Wine said, of Mr Kasirye on Twitter.
Another journalist, Ali Mivule of local broadcaster NTV, was injured after a tear gas canister hit his leg, according to his employer. His condition was said to be stable.
Police said, in a statement, that while trying to quell confrontations with Mr Wine’s supporters, “journalists were regrettably caught up during the process of dispersing the violent group”.
The three casualties are the latest victims of election-related violence as Uganda’s security forces are accused of trying to stop Mr Wine from holding raucous public rallies.
Uganda faces growing pressure from the international community and watchdogs to respect human rights ahead of polls scheduled for January 14.
The arrest and detention last week of a prominent rights attorney, Nicholas Opiyo, over criminal charges has added to what some critics see as a campaign of repression targeting civic leaders, activists, journalists and perceived political opponents.
President Yoweri Museveni, who has held power since 1986, faces the strong challenge of Mr Wine, who appeals to young people wishing to see a change of government.
Mr Museveni’s government is frequently criticised for corruption as well as widespread joblessness in the urban centres. Mr Wine has repeatedly urged Mr Museveni to retire, saying he would guarantee his safety.
Mr Wine’s campaign events have become increasingly affected by violent confrontations with authorities and Mr Wine, himself, has been arrested many times by police who accuse him of trying to disrupt public order.