Government Bans Live Coverage of Defiance Campaign

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In short
Information and National Guidance Minister, General Jim Muhwezi, says any media house that violates the ban on covering the defiance campaign risks losing its license.

Government has warned media houses against the live broadcast of the defiance campaign by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party. Information and National Guidance Minister, General Jim Muhwezi, says any media house that violates the ban risks losing its license.
  
//Cue In: You are opening the door…
Cue Out…will be guilty too//
 
The decision to close media houses that defy the ban was reached in the weekly cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.  The ban is in line with interim orders issued by the Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma last week stopping FDC and Dr. Kizza Besigye from carrying out their planned peaceful demonstrations to protest the outcomes of the February 18 elections.
 
 
The banned includes the weekly prayers held at the FDC party headquarters in Najjanankumbi.  Early this week, FDC announced countrywide demonstrations to compel government to conduct an independent audit of the poll results.
 
FDC wrote to police notifying it of its plans to lead a procession from the party headquarters in Najjanamkubi to Nakivubo Blue Primary. However, police rejected the request.
 
However, Attorney General, Fred Ruhindi explained that the intention of the ban is not meant to violate the freedom of expression of the media, but to keep the country peaceful.

 
//Cue In: The earlier…
Cue Out:...gag the media//


The Inspector General of Police, General Kale Kayihura says it is the responsibility of the media not to publish any stories on the defiance campaigns or they will be held liable. Early this week, Francis Gimara, the president Uganda Law Society faulted justice Kavuma for issuing and order banning defiance activities since he had not heard from both parties. 
 
 
Ruhindi however says the FDC has a right to appeal against the order if they want to continue with the defiance campaign.

Robert Ssempala, the National Coordinator of Human Rights Journalists Network, says the ruling government doesn't want to hear any alternative voice, which explains why it is targeting the media that has the ability to cover all forms of political activities.  
 He says it is for the same reason that the ICT Minister wants an amendment to the Uganda Communications Act of 2013 to remove to requirement of a Parliamentary approval to his subsidiary legislation. 



"What we are going to next is closure of media houses, arrest and kidnap of strong-willed journalists and activists, with total disregard of the law," he said.

 

About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.