At least one person has been killed and dozens have been arrested in Uganda as the government intensified its crackdown on opposition supporters on Monday.

Police fired tear gas and opened fire on demonstrators in several locations around the country who were protesting the alleged beating of detained opposition MP and musician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine.

One person was shot and killed and five others were injured when police opened fire on a minibus during one of the protests, a police spokesman said.

The east African nation has been roiled by political tensions after Mr Kyagulanyi and other MPs were arrested last week during a local election campaign in the northern town of Arua, when the convoy of President Yoweri Museveni was pelted with stones.

The unusual wave of violence in the normally quiet Ugandan capital is a sign that Mr Museveni is tightening his grip, observers say, as the president takes aim at the wildly popular Afro-beat musician and politician who many Ugandans believe poses a threat to the leader’s long-term ambitions.

Kyagulanyi Ssentamu is a wildly popular Afro-beat musician and politician who many Ugandans believe poses a threat to the leader’s long-term ambitions Credit: Ronald Kabuubi/AP

One of Mr Kyagulanyi’s drivers was killed in the fray, and the MP has since been charged with illegally possessing fire arms and ammunition.

Mr Kyagulanyi’s lawyer has said that his client has been tortured in detention and has suffered multiple injuries, claims that the president has called “fake news.”

He said that “violence, threats and intimidation” in elections “will not be tolerated,” in a subsequent statement on Monday, and that the action security forces took against Mr Kyagulanyi and his supporters last week was necessary.

“If the Army had not intervened in Arua, a lot of people would have been killed by this Bobi Wine group. They had gathered stones, knives and there were reports of even guns,” he said.

Mr Musveni, who has been in power since 1986, is one of Africa’s long-ruling heads of state.

In 2005 he amended the constitution to remove presidential term limits, and at the end of last year he signed a bill eradicating the country’s 75-year-old presidential age limit, paving he way for the 74-year-old to run again in presidential elections slated for 2021. Civil rights groups and opposition politicians vehemently have been critical of the move.

Uganda won its independence from British colonial rule in 1962.

Source : The Telegraph

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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