The whereabouts of vocal musician and legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine remain unknown after Uganda Police confirmed on Tuesday morning that they do not have him in their custody.
Bobi Wine was last heard from on Monday evening when he took to Twitter to say that his driver had been shot dead, adding that ‘my hotel has been cordoned off by police and SFC’
Arua’s bloody by-election
Campaigns to replace the slain legislator of Arua Municipality, Ibrahim Abiriga, became riotous and deadly on Monday as supporters of the independent candidate Kasiano Wadri clashed with SFC security operatives, who are charged with protecting the president of the country.
President Museveni had spent the day in Arua campaigning for the ruling party candidate Nusura Tiperu, while Bobi Wine was also in the area to support Wadri.
Residents of Arua will cast their votes on Wednesday 15th August.
Bobi Wine’s announcement of the death of his driver shook many Ugandans who bemoaned the violent twist that the election had taken, recalling that Abiriga, whose replacement was being sought, had also been violently killed in June.
Senior Press Secretary, Don Wanyama quickly sent out an explanatory tweet saying opposition supporters attacked the president’s convoy, provoking the subsequent crackdown.
President— Don Wanyama (nyamadon) August 13, 2018
KagutaMusevenicar that was hit by opposition supporters this evening in Arua town. The police will issue a statement on this incident shortly. nbstv
Police later confirmed this version of events, saying the president’s convoy had been blocked by opposition supporters before and after a rally he addressed in Arua.
‘‘When President Museveni was going to Boma grounds for the final rallies, he was met by a tractor that had the red ribbons. When leaving the grounds, he was then met with Hon. Wadri’s supporters,’‘ explained Emilia Kayima, Uganda Police spokesperson.
Red is the color worn by several opposition politicians and supporters including Bobi Wine and Wadri.
BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) August 13, 2018
Where is Bobi Wine?
Police have confirmed that they have detained the independent aspirant for the Arua Municipality race, Kassiano Wadri, whose supporters were accused of attacking the president’s convoy.
‘‘But we have Hon. Wadri in our custody, we want to establish why he used force to evade police, was it a serious plan he had in mind to disorganize the campaigns!,’‘ said Jonathan Musinguzi, the West Nile Regional Police Commander.
They however claim not to have Bobi Wine in their custody.
‘‘Arua is calm and people are going on with their businesses. We don’t have Hon. Kyagulanyi at the moment but he’s one of the key suspects,’‘ Musinguzi added.
Earlier, the police spokesperson, Emilia Kayima, had confirmed that one death has been record and at least 30 people have so far been arrested.
Attacks on journalists
Videos circulating on social media showed journalists covering the deadly clashes on Monday evening, being assaulted.
Sabiti Joseph, a journalist with a local television station, NBS TV confirmed that he and a cameraman were safe, even after a scuffle with security operatives.
‘‘I can confirm that both our cameraman and reporter are safe, they managed to escape the security operatives who bundled them up earlier today while preparing to do a live link,’‘ Sabiti told the television’s morning show.
Sabiti added that journalists covering the by-election are worried about the ‘whereabouts of Herbert Zziwa’, a journalist with another television station, NTV who was arrested on Monday evening.
NTV has since confirmed that Zziwa and a correspondent he was working with, Ronald Muwanga, are ‘currently detained at Arua Central Police station’.
UPDATE: We can confirm that our reporter— NTV UGANDA (ntvuganda) August 14, 2018
zziwaherbertand correspondent, Ronald Muwanga are currently detained at Arua Central Police Station. We are engaging the authorities to have them released. #NTVNews pic.twitter.com/a6TWC723k1
The rise and rise of Bobi Wine
Since he joined parliament last year, Kyagulanyi has gained in popularity through his often biting criticism of Museveni’s government, which at times he expresses through his music.
Government officials see his appeal, especially to young people, as a threat to Museveni’s hold on power which is fraying due to public anger over deteriorating public services, corruption and rights abuses.
Critics say Museveni is set for a life presidency after parliament last year removed an age cap from the constitution that would have barred him from seeking re-election in 2021.