Ugandan legislator Francis Zaake, detained after the president’s convoy was stoned, was “brutalised” by security personnel, an opposition figure said as images of the bruised lawmaker emerged on social media.
Supporters of an independent candidate running in a parliamentary by-election threw stones at President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade on Monday in the West Nile region, police and Museveni said.
Police used teargas and shots to stop the stoning and detained at least five members of parliament and several other people.
Those arrested included Robert Kyagulanyi, an independent lawmaker and musician who gained popularity since he joined parliament last year through scathing criticism of Museveni’s government, sometimes expressed through music.
During Monday’s incident, Kyagulanyi’s driver was shot and killed, according to police who said they are not yet able to identify who shot him.
Mugisha Muntu, former head of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda’s biggest opposition party, said on Twitter: “Hon. Zaake was badly brutalised by security forces … journalists too weren’t spared. We must reject this lawlessness.”
Images circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook showing Zaake apparently on a bed, eyes closed, with a swollen face and cut ear. One hand was swollen while the other had a wounded palm.
Muntu also said on Twitter Kyagulanyi was being held incommunicado and “in urgent need of medical attention.”
Police did not answer repeated calls for comment and Museveni’s spokesman Don Wanyama also did not answer a Reuters’ call for comment.
Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali told parliament Kyagulanyi “was found with a gun” and would appear before a court martial in Gulu, northern Uganda. Ali said 33 people were arrested in connection with the incident.
Rights activists have long accused Museveni’s government of using tactics including beatings by security forces and detentions to stifle opposition to his rule.
Officials reject those accusations and say Museveni’s rule is based on mass support.
Critics say Museveni, in power since 1986, is set to rule for life after parliament last year scrapped an age limit for presidential candidates.
Kizza Besigye, who has run against and lost to Museveni four times, was jailed dozens of times for alleged offences including illegal assemblies, rape and treason. Besigye says prosecutions are politically motivated. He has won some cases in court while others are pending.
Museveni blamed the stoning on “weak management by police and criminal behaviour of some opposition leaders.”
“Some leaders have been acting with impunity … these acts are strongly rejected and will be punished,” he said in a statement, adding he was unharmed in the incident.
Police are investigating the MPs for blocking Museveni’s convoy among other offences.