Uganda: Protests Over Closing of Independent Newspapers by Armed Police

Armed police tear gassed protesters against the closing of two independent newspapers. (Google Images)

Armed police tear gassed protesters against the closing of two independent newspapers. (Google Images)

Mail&Guardian is reporting that Ugandan police fired tear gas at journalists protesting the closing of key independent media in Uganda. The author writes:

“Riot police scattered around 100 journalists, their supporters and human rights activists who tried to gather outside the offices of the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers, which were closed on May 20 by armed police. “This is a violation of media freedom and economic sabotage,” rights activist Geoffrey Ssebaggala shouted at police.

The closure of the two papers leaves only one major operating newspaper, the government-owned New Vision.

Two radio stations in the Monitor’s offices also remain off air. “Instead of arresting criminals killing people in the country, you are here terrorising us,” journalist Moses Ouma told police as they dragged him away from outside the Monitor’s offices.”

The post goes on to say:

“The closures came after the newspapers in early May printed a leaked confidential memo by a senior general, David Sejusa Tinyefuza, alleging that President Yoweri Museveni was grooming his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him.

Tinyefuza said there were plots to assassinate those opposed to the plan.”

One of the papers shut down by police Red Pepper Newspaper, posted online that officials in the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD)  have expressed grave concern over the continuous closure of media houses.

The unidentified Red Pepper writer offers:

“In ongoing meetings since last week to discuss among others the media closure, John Ken Lukyamuzi the President General of the Conservative Party states that Uganda is in a state of emergency to warrant closure of the media.

The parties involved include the ruling National Resistance Movement, Forum for Democratic Change, JEEMA, Conservative Party, Democratic Party and the Uganda People’s Congress.

He advises government to act in accordance with the issues raised by General David Sejusa the head of internal intelligence instead of terrorizing the media.”

Red Pepper is also reporting that the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has been sued for among others disciplining ‘errant’ media houses that would not adhere to the minimum broadcasting standards while reporting on the General David Sejusa saga.

The unidentified author writes:

“The suit was filed today before the High Court in Kampala by a concerned city advocate, Brian Ogago Abangi.

In his affidavit, Abangi says that the 14th day of May 2013, UCC unlawfully decided to discipline errant media houses that would not adhere to the minimum broadcasting standards in respect to coverage of the events on Gen. David Sejusa.

Abangi further notes that on May 17 2013, UCC unlawfully made a decision and set the local content quotas to which all broadcasters are to comply effective January 1st 2014.

Also sued is the UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi.

According to the concerned lawyer, the resolutions by UCC to warn the alleged errant media houses were passed without being backed by the Board, which action, he says is illegal.”

This story is developing…

To learn more about this story, visit Red Pepper or Mail&Guardian.

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