Special Reports

US slams Uganda for gagging media, FDC demos

US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac

The US embassy in Kampala has condemned government for banning the live coverage of defiance campaign activities.

The minister of Information and National Guidance, Jim Muhwezi, told media in Kampala that continuation of this so-called “defiance campaign” is illegal because it is in clear breach of the Interim Court Order issued last week.

He said Dr. Besigye himself has asserted that his defiance is intended to fail the swearing-in of Uganda’s President-elect, H.E. Y.K. Museveni.

This goes against the will of the majority of our electorate who voted for H.E. Y.K. Museveni, Muhwezi explained.

“Such action also violates the recent Supreme Court ruling which re-affirmed H.E. Y.K. Musevenias the duly elected President of Uganda.”

He said cabinet also directed that all live broadcast media coverage of the activities of the “Defiance Campaign” organized by Dr. Kizza Besigye and his cohorts should stop forth-with.

“Any media houses that continue offering live coverage of the so-called “Defiance Campaign” risk having their broadcasting licenses revoked.”

US embassy says “government of Uganda’s decision to ban media coverage of FDC activities is truly disappointing just days after World Press Freedom Day”.

“Such restrictions violate not just the rights of journalists, but the rights of citizens to information.”

The embassy said citizens of Uganda should be able to decide for themselves what information to use to make informed choices about their country.

“As we have said before, all parties should refrain from violence and intimidation.”

The embassy two days ago emphasised the need for media freedom as the world celebrated press freedom day.

The embassy [<a href=”http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/“>http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/</a>] said in Uganda this year’s elections saw infringements on the rights of media.

Uganda’s security services sometimes prevented journalists from covering opposition candidates.

Journalists sometimes were detained for trying to report on demonstrations or the state of the country’s hospitals.

More than three dozen Ugandan journalists this year alone have been victims of assaults in the course of performing their jobs.

“And we remember all too well the government’s decision on February 18 to shut down social media and mobile money sites.”

It said the infringements on the media and freedom of information send the wrong message to Ugandans.

“At a time when more Ugandans are online, when more Ugandans want a say in how their country is and should be governed, efforts to restrict the press and people’s access to information are a big step in the wrong direction.”

Read full speech here

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