Ugandan presidential candidate and pop star, Bobi Wine, who is seeking to replace long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, has been arrested while campaigning in the east of the country.
In two tweets on Wednesday, Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said police had violently broken into his vehicle and taken him into custody.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The price of freedom is high but we shall certainly overcome,” Wine, 38, said in one of the tweets.
Since expressing his intention to run against Museveni, Wine has won a large following, especially among young people in the east African country.
Many young supporters say they are drawn to him by his criticism of Museveni’s government mingled in his lyrics. Others say that as a young leader he is better positioned to tackle the challenges they face.
‘Total chaos’ in Kampala
A local independent newspaper, reported demonstrators had erected barricades and lit fires on some roads in the capital Kampala and at least one other town to protest against Wine’s arrest.
Wine’s large following has rattled the ruling National Resistance Movement and security forces have frequently fired teargas at his rallies and detained and beaten his supporters, witnesses say.
It was “total chaos” in the city, said the chairman of the Kampala City Traders Association, Evarest Kayongo.
“The streets are empty … we have closed business because of tear gas and bullets,” he said.
On the day he was nominated early this month, a squad of military and policy personnel used metallic tools to break into his vehicle. He was subsequently detained briefly and police used teargas to disperse his supporters.
“We have not been allowed to see him and we don’t know what is happening,” asserted Joel Ssenyonyi, the spokesman for Wine’s political party, the National Unity Platform.
In a statement issued before Wine’s detention on Wednesday, police had warned that presidential candidates would be arrested if they flouted guidelines limiting attendance at rallies to 200 people during the Covid-19 pandemic.