Defiant Bobi Wine braves teargas, bullets in tax protest

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Bobi Wine being arrested

By AFP

Police fired live bullets and teargas at activists demonstrating against social media and mobile money taxes.

The government introduced a 1% tax on each mobile money transaction and a 200 shillings tax on social media also known as Over the Top -OTT.

This morning, activists led a demonstration starting from Mini-Price in Kampala up to the constitutional square. They were however intercepted by Police in front of Mapeera House.

The group led by Kyadondo East MP Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was comprised of journalists, youth and musicians. They chanted ‘people power, people power this tax must go”

Since the beginning of the month access to media such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, as well as dating sites Tinder and Grindr, have been blocked unless users pay a 200-shilling ($0.05, 0.04 euro) daily tax.

In a statement, President Museveni justified the move saying many citizens did not pay their taxes as they were meant to, and should not “donate money to foreign companies through chatting or even lying” on social media.

Wednesday’s rally was led by singer and parliamentarian Bobi Wine, real name Robert Kyagulanyi, whose election last year was fuelled by social media.

Scores of protesters marched towards parliament, with the rally turning chaotic as a large group of market vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers faced off against police in anti-riot gear, with some lobbing stones at the officers.

“Teargas was fired and some live ammunition was fired into the air to disperse the crowd,” police spokesman Luke Owoyesigire, adding two protesters had been arrested.

“During the unlawful procession officers had to act. Some of our officers were assaulted.”

Police attempted to arrest Wine, but his supporters successfully defended him and he arrived at parliament where he addressed MPs later Wednesday.

“We set out to show our displeasure at the social media and mobile money taxes. We had informed the police of our intention to march and so we are dismayed at the use of brute force and live ammunition to break up a peaceful protest,” said one of the organisers, journalist Raymond Mujuni.

“It’s not right. Our rights as citizens are being trampled upon.”

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