Uganda: Gen Muntu Suspends Campaign Activities Over Amuriat, Bobi Arrest

This photo taken on November 18, 2020 shows FDC presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat being arrested by police in Gulu District.
18 November 2020

Presidential candidate Gen Mugisha Muntu has suspended his campaign activities over the arrest of fellow presidential contenders, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and Patrick Amuriat.

"We have decided to pause our presidential campaign activities until our colleagues, Bobi Wine and Patrick Amuriat are released and their freedom to campaign guaranteed. We call upon government to recognise that this isn't business as usual," Gen Muntu tweeted Wednesday.

Both Mr Amuriat and Mr Kyagulanyi have been engaged in cat-and-mouse chase with police since last week when they started looking for votes ahead of 2021 general election.

Amuriat was Tuesday arrested by police in Kitgum District in northern for allegedly defying police orders. Police wanted Amuriat to go and hold his campaigns in Lamwo because President Yoweri Museveni who is also the NRM presidential candidate for the January 14, 2021 election was holding his campaign meetings at Boma grounds in Kitgum town.

Amuriat accused security operatives of unfairness arguing that President Museveni should have been transferred to Kitgum since they are both presidential contenders.

As a result, police fired teargas to disperse his supporters before detaining Amuria. He was released hours later.

On Wednesday, Amuriat was again arrested by police in Gulu City before his planned rally as he drums up support ahead of 2021 presidential election. Police accused him of violating Electoral commission guidelines by having a "large crowd of supporters." By the time of filing this story, Amuriat was still detained at Gulu CPS.

Meanwhile, protests broke out Wednesday in parts of Kampala, Masaka, Mukono, Jinja, Mbale, Busia, Mityana, Luweero, Lira and other parts of Kampala after supporters of Ugandan pop star turned politician, Mr Kyagulanyi, learnt of his arrest.

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets as the politician's supporters engaged them in running battles, demanding for Bobi Wine's unconditional release.

Mr Kyagulanyi was arrested in the country's eastern district of Luuka during a campaign rally for violating the Electoral Commission guidelines on the number of people who should be present during candidates' campaigns.

According to the Electoral Commission, presidential candidates are not supposed to hold rallies or processions during campaigns but are allowed to hold meetings of not more than 200 people during their campaigns. Police said more than 200 people were present in Mr Kyagulanyi's meeting.

Police fired tear gas at the rally venue and some of the politician's aides were injured in the ensuing scuffle.

Two journalists were beaten and one arrested at the scene.

Mr Kyagulanyi, the presidential flag bearer of the National Unity Platform (NUP), together with nine other presidential candidates are traversing the country to seek votes ahead of the January 2021 election.

NUP Secretary General Lewis Rubongoya said that it was the police's work to manage the crowd, adding that they should not arrest the presidential candidates.

Earlier on Wednesday, Inspector General of Police Okoth Ochola had warned that the force had adopted a tougher approach to candidates that flaunt the guidelines. He added that unauthorised assemblies would not be permitted.

"Therefore, those who shall defy these Electoral Commission guidelines with their sinister plans aimed at disrupting the electoral process will definitely suffer consequences," Mr Ochola said.

For the nine days of the campaign so far, police have often fired teargas to disperse opposition supporters mostly in processions with their candidates.

At least three of the opposition candidates have also been blocked from campaigning in certain areas.

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