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Police Arrest 40, Including MP, in Crackdown on Dissent

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Member of Parliament Charles Matovu
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Ugandan authorities on Friday arrested 40 people, including Member of Parliament Charles Matovu, for inciting violence following their involvement in a foiled procession to welcome National Unity Platform (NUP) president Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine.

The arrests come after a security operation was conducted to prevent the procession, which involved overt and covert officers. The arrested individuals have undergone fingerprinting and profiling, and they will face charges in court as the investigations continue.

Kyagulanyi and other NUP leaders had earlier reported the detention of over 300 supporters and party leaders who had attempted to give Kyagulanyi a welcome. The arrests were widely criticized, with concerns about shrinking democratic space in Uganda. Kyagulanyi was put under house arrest upon his return to Uganda, and his supporters had planned to accompany him to his home.

Ugandan authorities have a history of using “preventative arrest” to detain opposition leaders briefly before returning them to their homes to prevent mass demonstrations. The US State Department expressed concern over Kyagulanyi’s detention and the detention of other opposition supporters, highlighting the shrinking democratic space in Uganda.

Kyagulanyi, a popstar-turned-politician, made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in Uganda’s 2021 election, which was marked by a crackdown on the opposition and anti-government demonstrations that resulted in fatalities. President Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, remains in power, and the next presidential election is scheduled for 2026.