Ugandan police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse supporters of musician and lawmaker Bobi Wine gathered at a beach resort near Kampala where he was planning a news conference and concert.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, built support since becoming a member of parliament two years ago. Many young Ugandans are drawn to him by his criticism of President Yoweri Museveni, ruling for over three decades. Wine plans to run for president in 2021.
Security forces frequently prevent Wine (37) from staging concerts, accusing him of failing to comply with public order management rules. Wine and his supporters accuse government of cancelling shows due to his political ambitions.
“Police are empowered by law to use reasonable force and that’s what we did to disperse supporters and make him comply with orders,” police spokesman Patrick Onyango told Reuters.
Footage on local NTV showed police firing teargas and water cannon at Wine supporters at One Love Beach in Busabala on the shores of Lake Victoria where he planned a concert.
Footage showed police removing Wine from his vehicle and shoving him into a police truck.
“Police and the military blocked us from reaching Busabala for our press conference about police brutality, injustice and abuse of authority,” Bobi Wine said on Twitter.
“They tried to break into our car. Now they are clamping it to drag us away,” he said, shortly before his administration team posted an update saying he was “violently arrested.”
The police spokesman said Wine was driven back to his home in Kampala’s northern outskirts.
Opponents of Museveni say he uses security crackdowns and patronage to maintain power. The president’s supporters say he brought order to a once unstable nation and built up a strong support base particularly in rural areas.
Last week, Uganda’s Supreme Court cleared the way for Museveni (74) to stand again after rejecting a legal challenge to a 2017 constitutional amendment that removed an age limit.