KAMPALA — In Uganda, attacks and restrictions on lawmakers opposed to lifting the presidential age limit continue. The homes of two MP’s hit were hit with grenades early Tuesday.
Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, was awoken in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to the sound of explosions. Three grenades had been thrown into his house. No one was injured.
Kyagulanyi is the third lawmaker to have his residence attacked by grenades in the past week.
“The threats have been on my life, and different cars, different people have been trailing me from outside home. I have been having calls telling me that they are actually going to kill me if I do not stop opposing the removal of the age limit. Last night, the three grenades were thrown at the window of my first-born son,” he said.
Members of Kyagulanyi’s staff tell VOA that shortly after this interview Tuesday, the MP was picked up by police, for the second time in the past month.
The Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Emiliano Kayima told VOA investigations into the grenade attacks are ongoing, but he had no comment on Kyagulanyi’s alleged arrest.
In a tweet Tuesday, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo accused the opposition of carrying out what he called the “flash bang grenades” as “scare tactics to frame government.”
— Ofwono Opondo P’Odel (@OfwonoOpondo) October 3, 2017
Several opposition lawmakers have been arrested and briefly detained in recent weeks, accused of inciting violence and causing public unrest.
Security forces were deployed heavily throughout the capital Tuesday in anticipation of a “walk to work” protest announced by Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besiyge. The protest did not happen.
The opposition has pledged to resist ruling party efforts to remove the presidential age limit of 75 from the constitution. The amendment would pave the way for longtime President Yoweri Museveni to run for a sixth term in office in 2021.
Twenty-five legislators opposed to the lifting of the age limit are expected back in parliament Thursday following a one-week suspension. They were forcefully ejected from the house amid fistfights on the parliamentary floor Wednesday as the ruling party prepared to introduce its motion to amend the constitution.
The Uganda Communications Commission also has banned local media from hosting or giving live coverage to legislators opposed to the lifting of the age limit, with the commission’s executive director saying in a written statement to media houses that live radio and television broadcasts were inciting violence.
Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opio told VOA his organization, Chapter Four, plans to challenge the broadcast ban in court.
“The media is broadcasting the manipulations happening in parliament, the violence happening on ordinary Ugandans,” he said. “And therefore in order for them to be able to do what they want to do silently, the media has to be silenced. And I think that, while we have a thriving media business in the region, I don’t think we have a thriving media freedom. Many media owners have deep economic interests that are tied to the state, and therefore tend to very quickly roll over when the state comes coughing.”
A group of 230 Ugandan journalists calling themselves the Press Freedom Forum issued a statement on What’s App condemning the ban.
The ruling party’s bill to remove the presidential age limit from the constitution had its first reading in parliament Tuesday.