The opposition presidential candidate was arrested while campaigning in Kalangala in the central region of the country.
Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, and his campaign team were arrested in Kalangala, in the country’s central region, he said in a post on Twitter.
Wednesday’s arrests sparked protests in a field on Kalangala Island, Lake Victoria, where a helicopter was parked and which Wine supporters say would be used to bring it back to the capital Kampala.
Police fired tear gas at the protesting crowd.
“They are even shooting now to disperse the people gathering on the roads,” a witness, who declined to give his name for security reasons, told Reuters news agency.
Wine became the main challenger to President Yoweri Museveni, 76, in the January 14 presidential election.
Joel Senyonyi, spokesperson for Wine’s National Unity Platform, said: “Yes, the police arrested him and his entire campaign team. They (the police) put them in police trucks and started driving, but we don’t know where they are taking them.
Police have dismissed reports of the arrests and said they have CCTV footage of supporters deflating the tires of police motor vehicles, inciting violence and obstructing officers on duty.
“The candidate has been selected for continuously staging massive rallies amid growing coronavirus threats, in total disregard of the Election Commission and Health Ministry guidelines,” police said on their Facebook page. “He is transferred to his home in Magere, Kampala.”
Reuters photographs of the scene showed Wine being escorted by at least 10 police officers, some armed with rifles.
Wine wore a helmet and bulletproof vest, which he said he used to prevent injury whenever police disperse his meetings.
In November, at least 54 people died after protests erupted over Wine’s brief detention for alleged violation of social distancing measures.
Police at the time said they arrested nearly 600 people and accused protesters of riots and looting.
United Nations human rights experts urged Uganda on Tuesday to curb violent security forces and drop charges against political opponents and activists arrested in what experts called an election crackdown.