A spasm of violence shook
News reports say tensions over land and power between President Yoweri Museveni's government and
Daniel Kalinaki, managing editor of Uganda's independent "Daily Monitor" newspaper told "Reuters" that the government was caught off guard by the protests, and shut down the Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) to cut the link between the kingdom's leaders and rank-and-file members on the streets. "Without a coherent message from the centre, the rioting became localised and criminalised as gangs ... took to indiscriminate violence and
looting, quickly turning many of the people who would otherwise support the visit into its victims."
"The government banned live radio debate programmes known as "ebimeeza" on the grounds that radio stations were unable to control their content, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Council agents backed by soldiers seized transmitting equipment, crippling CBS, reported CPJ. Council technicians and soldiers also raided Radio Sapientia, a Catholic-run station and Suubi, a commercial, youth-oriented station. Radio Two Akaboozi Kubiri was also suspended. Information minister Kabakumba Matsiko accused the stations of inciting riots, says RSF.
"The closure of CBS is a big blow to the independent media in the country, which is hurtling towards general elections in 2011," says MI. "It is the only radio that had withstood state intimidation largely because it enjoyed
the special status of being owned by the
A widely respected journalist, filmmaker and talk-show host of Radio One's "Spectrum," Kalundi Sserumaga, was abducted outside WBS Television on 11 September after criticising Museveni in a television debate, says RSF and the International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC).
The WiPC reported on 14 September that Sserumaga had been transferred to a hospital to receive treatment for injuries he sustained as a result of severe police beatings. He told reporters he expected to stay in hospital
for at least a day, but that he would be returned to police detention. Human Rights Watch reports that on 15 September he was charged with six counts of sedition and released on bail.
"The government is employing sweeping measures and making broad assertions to crack down on critical media," CPJ said. "They're not fooling anyone."
IFEX members are preparing a joint letter to President Museveni condemning recent attacks on the media and calling for the government to uphold freedom of expression rights, which is being released on 17 September.
Related stories on IFEX.org:
- Four radio stations closed; talk-show host detained for "inciting riots":
More on the web:
- Riots point to more turmoil before Uganda poll (Reuters):
- End media clampdown (Human Rights Watch):