Report: Uganda

Uganda's Monitor and Red Pepper reopen after 10-day closure

Employees of the Daily Monitor newspaper with their mouths taped shut, sing slogans during a protest against the closure of their premises by the Uganda government
Employees of the Daily Monitor newspaper with their mouths taped shut, sing slogans during a protest against the closure of their premises by the Uganda government Reuters/James Akena

The Ugandan government has allowed papers and radio stations shut by police to reopen.  Monitor Publications is back in business 10 days after it was besieged and closed by the police.

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Two radio stations owned by belonging to the Monitor publications, Dembe FM and KFM,  were back on air Thursday after being pulled off air on the 20 May

Outgoing Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek told the media in Kampala that the reopening of the newspaper followed a series of behind-closed-doors negotiations between the government and the Nation Media group, which owns Monitor Publication.

The managers of Nation Media Group met President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday 26 May in Addis Ababa over the closure of the Kampala-based media houses.

The Monitor offices in Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb, were cordoned off as a crime scene, as police searched for a letter published by the paper.

The letter was authored by General David Sejusa, also known as Tinyefuza. In it he  alleged that there was a plot to kill top army and government officials who were opposed to the “Muhoozi project”.

According to Sejusa, who is currently in the UK, Museveni was grooming his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to succeed him when he retires from leadership of Uganda.

Onek said government directed police to vacate premises after Nation Media Group made written undertakings to the government.

The Monitor agreed that it will only publish or air stories which are properly sourced, verified and factual.

It also undertook to be sensitive to and not publish or air stories that can generate tensions, ethnic hatred, cause insecurity or disturb law and order.

The minister added that the Monitor managers acknowledged that there had been violations of their editorial policy by their reporters and editors in Uganda.

“In view of the above-mentioned commitments and undertakings by the management of the Nation Media Group to the government, and at the request of the management, the police has called off the cordon of the Monitor premises so that they resume their normal business as police continue with the search,” said minister Onek.

The offices of the Red Pepper tabloid have also reopened.

On 20 May 2013 the police raided the Monitor and Red Pepper offices, searching for the letter as well as any other document related to or similar to it.

Since then police has clashed with journalists and human rights defenders who protested the closure describing police action as an abuse of the freedom of the press and an infringement on human rights.

Police on Tuesday fired tear gas to calm the journalists who carried placards calling for the reopening of all the closed media houses. They carried a cross, covered in a bark cloth, of the kind wrapped around dead bodies for burial, to symbolise the demise of press freedom in Uganda.

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