The Ugandan government has slapped a ban on media live coverage of opposition’s defiance campaign, advice http://cfbtoman.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/json-endpoints/class.wpcom-json-api-render-endpoint.php saying the crusade “is illegal because it is in clear breach of the Interim Court Order issued last week.”
Officials said the move is geared toward stopping the flow of messages appealing to citizens to engage in unconstitutional activities including defiance and civil disobedience that would cultivate ground for violence.
Information Minister Rtd Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi said government institutions are enforcing an order issued by the Constitutional Court which banned defiance activities spearheaded by FDC strongman Dr Kizza Besigye.
“Any media house that attempts to broadcast the defiance campaign live will have its license revoked, http://childrensclasses.org/wp2012/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/json-endpoints/class.wpcom-json-api-list-embeds-endpoint.php ” warned Muhwezi on Thursday in Kampala.
The Minister was accompanied to the press conference by Attorney General Fred Ruhindi, http://cjs.coop/wp/wp-includes/simplepie/restriction.php police boss Gen Kale Kayihura and UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi.
Muhwezi said Government feels that “since the electioneering is now over, there is need for our people to return to work and production,” adding, “Besides, in the past, such unlawful and acrimonious actions have disrupted business and put the lives of our people, including journalists, at risk.”
He said at its sitting on Wednesday, “Cabinet directed the police to ensure that the Interim Order issued by the Constitutional Court against the ‘defiance Campaign’ organised by Dr Kizza Besigye and his cohorts should stop forthwith.”
Muhwezi advised Besigye to “address his grievances through the court just like government did about the campaign. He is not above the law.”
Besigye today called for nationwide protests as part of his defiance campaign in the wake of the dispute election results.
The response remains poor with police and other security forces maintaining heavy deployment in all parts of the country.
Ruhindi advised that, “If the media isn’t pleased with the interim court order, they have a right to appeal against it through court.”
The fresh directive is likely to face stiff resistance from the Ugandan media which has in recent months maintained a live coverage of significant political events in the country.
Already, questions are being asked about the legality of the Cabinet decision in relation to the people’s right to access information.
Muhwezi said the question of the legality/illegality of FDC’s defiance will be decided by courts of law.
“This serves as a warning to the media short of which UCC will switch you off. We have the duty to preserve stability of Uganda,” charged Muhwezi.
“Cabinet directed that police ensures that court order is adhered to. And that all live broadcast of defiance campaign should stop. It contradicts the Supreme Court ruling which declared Museveni as democratically elected President.”
The Attorney General cited the possibility of media reporting on ‘defiance’ resulting into similar events that incited genocide in Rwanda.
“Let us all be players, Uganda has a lot of other initiatives beside the court order to ensure peace. They should be exploited,” added Ruhindi.
“We should look at the bigger picture. Our narrow judgment might not help us in maintaining peace,” he added.
Regarding enforcement, Muhwezi observed: “As media, you do your work by abiding to court order and leave government to think about how we shall do the enforcement.”
On implementation of the Cabinet decision, Kayihura said, “For news bulletins, editors have a responsibility to remove all content related to FDC’s defiance campaign.”
Mutabazi advised that any live coverage must have a component to delay the content for a few seconds (including BBC) to allow editing.
The ban includes hosting proponents of the defiance campaign on radio and television talk shows.
Mutabazi cautioned that, “If media houses extend defiance reporting through their social media, government will be forced to clamp down on social media platforms.”
Muhwezi quoted Dr Besigye as saying the defiance is intended to fail the swearing-in of Uganda’s president-elect Yoweri Museveni.
“This goes against the will of the majority of our electorate who for Museveni. Such action also violates the Supreme Court ruling which re-affirmed Museveni the duly elected president of Uganda,” said Muhwezi, a close ally of President Museveni.