Ugandan pop star and presidential candidate Bobi Wine, whose arrest this week triggered protests that led to at least 37 deaths, was released on bail on Friday after being charged with holding rallies likely to spread the coronavirus.
The violence comes as campaigns kick-off ahead of January elections in the oil-rich East African nation, whose ageing leader Yoweri Musaveni is a staunch Western ally but faces accusations of corruption and nepotism at home, which he denies.
Opposition leader Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was arrested on Wednesday while campaigning in eastern Uganda for allegedly holding mass rallies in violation of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Uganda is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Jan. 14, with Wine emerging as a serious threat to Museveni, 76, who aims to extend his 34-year rule.
Violence snowballed as authorities deployed the military across the capital Kampala and surrounding areas to help police forces disperse protesters they accuse of rioting and looting. Police said they used live bullets, tear gas and water cannon, and arrested nearly 600 people.
Police pathologist Moses Byaruhanga told Reuters on Friday the death toll had jumped to 37.
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