Public In Mbale Condemns Media Crackdown

1659 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
Police closed Daily Monitor, its sister Radio stations KFM and Dembe FM and Red Pepper.

The public in Mbale has joined other activists to condemn the police siege of Daily Monitor and Red pepper. They have asked government to end the siege and intimidation to allow the media to operate freely. On Monday, police raided Daily Monitor and Red pepper head offices in search of a letter in which, General David Ssejusa alias Tunyefuzi demands for investigations into a plot to eliminate senior army and political officials opposed to attempt by President Museveni to have his son succeed him.
Police also closed down Daily Monitor, its sister Radio stations KFM and Dembe FM and Red Pepper. Judith Nabakooba, the police public relations officer later issued a statement saying they wouldn't leave until they find the letters. The clamp down on the media houses has not gone down well with members of the public in Mbale.  Akim Kalonzi, a primary school head teacher in Mbale says muzzling the media is a bad way of addressing pressing political issues.

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A civil servant who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter argues that the heavy handed action of the state shows show blatant disregard for the press and media freedoms in the country. He says it is unfortunate that instead of creating a good working environment for the media, government instead continues to target journalists.

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Ismah Naswhajji, a vendor in town says it’s unfair for government to close media organizations. He argues that closing media houses will not solve political disputes which seem to be gaining ground in the country. He says that as members of the business community, they want government to get a peaceful way of addressing the political disputes which seem to be attracting public attention and lead to chaos in the country.
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Another vendor who declined to be named for fear of a possible repercussion wants government to get the controversial letter from General David Sejjusa. She says instead of embarking on media crackdown, government should compel Sejjusa to return and hand over the letter in question.

She faults General Sejjusa for trying to create political instability by authoring a letter and channeling it through the wrong forum before fleeing the country. She says Ugandans have suffered serious the brunt of political turmoil, which shouldn't be allowed.

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In his April 24th letter General Sejusa also says the attack on Mbuya Barracks in March this year was stage-managed by some top military leaders to frame some people within government, including himself and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi among others.  The letter was addressed to the President through the ISO director general. But according to police Colonel Ronnie Barya, the director general of ISO has since denied receiving the letter. Police continue to occupy both the Monitor and Red Pepper offices having declared them crime scenes.


About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.