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Ugandan Opposition Leader Accuses Police of Torturing Ally



Robert Kyagulanyi

The Presidential candidate of Ugandan opposition party, Bobi Wine has accused the police of torturing and blinding one of his allies.

The lawmaker was detained over violating coronavirus social distancing rules and brought to court on a stretcher.

Wine, a pop star whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is seeking to oust aging leader Yoweri Museveni, 75, in the presidential polls due early next year.

One of Wine’s leading supporters, lawmaker Francis Zaake, was detained on April 19 by the police who accused him of committing a “negligent act likely to spread an infection of disease”, an apparent reference to the coronavirus.

Zaake’s supporters said he was arrested after he distributed food to people at his residence as relief to help them cope with the coronavirus lockdown. He had since been held in detention by security forces at several locations.

“He was tortured at each of those detention facilities. His eyes were sprayed with a substance that has left him unable to see,” Wine stated during a press conference in the capital.

After Zaake was brought to court on Monday on a stretcher, the court declined to allow him be charged and instead ordered that he should taken to a hospital and treated first, judiciary spokesman, Solomon Muyita said.

A police spokesman, Patrick Onyango denied Zaake had been tortured and declined to answer further questions.

Uganda, which has so far reported only 75 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths, has one Africa’s strictest lockdowns to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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All schools and businesses apart from the most essential were ordered shut and bans were also imposed on both public and private vehicles as well as all public gatherings.

Since emerging as a key figure in the opposition against Museveni, Wine has accused the government of targeting him and his supporters.

His rallies are often dispersed with teargas, beatings and detentions of his supporters.

In one clash in 2018, Wine, Zaake and other opposition supporters were beaten by security personnel, some sustaining injuries that required medical treatment abroad.


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