Government has warned media houses giving live coverage to the Forum for Democratic Change “defiance” campaign will have their licenses revoked.
Minister of Information and National Guidance Jim Muhwezi briefed the press about the cabinet decision today. He said the defiance campaign was declared illegal by court and should be treated as such by everyone.
— Ofwono Opondo P’Odel (@OfwonoOpondo) May 5, 2016
No more live coverage of outlawed defiance campaign. Broadcasting licences of errant media houses to be revoked, Cabinet decision.
— Pascal Kwesiga (@pkwesiga) May 5, 2016
“Government has taken decision to stop live coverage of (Kizza) Besigye defiance campaign. The ban takes immediate effect,” Uganda information minister Jim Muhwezi told AFP.
“Any media which contravenes this directive issued in furtherance of a court order stopping Besigye from carrying out a defiance campaign risks loosing its broadcast license.” he added.
He accused Besigye of carrying out a campaign to disrupt Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony “and to cause anarchy with an objective of using unconstitutional means to take over power and we can’t allow that.”
Besigye, who came in second in the February presidential poll, had called on his supporters to protest against Museveni’s fifth term in office.
The press briefing was attended by the Uganda Communications chief Godfrey Mutabazi, the IG of Police Kale Kayihura, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo, Attorney Generals Fred Ruhindi and Mwesigwa Rukutana.
Also at the briefing were heads of leading media houses, Robert Kabushenga of Vision Group, Aggie Assimwe of NTV and Ken Karisa of NBS TV. Rukutana said that if the media houses are not pleased with the interim court order, they have a right to appeal against it through court.
Last month the Constitutional Court issued an interim order halting acrimonious activities of the defiance campaign organised by the opposition group led by FDC.
Government said the activities disrupted business within the city and put people and journalists’ life at risk. Police have been obliged to ensure the interim order is strictly adhered to by keeping the city peaceful and stable.
According to a press statement, Besigye asserted that his defiance is intended to fail the swearing in of Uganda’s President elect Yoweri Museveni. This violates the Supreme Court ruling that reaffirmed Museveni as the duly elect President and also against the will of the majority of our electorate who voted for Museveni.
Ruhindi explained that if the opposition is aggrieved about the order, they should appeal against it through court processes and apply for a review.
Kariisa and Kabushenga responded to the directive, asking the media houses be served with the court order. “We have to act within the law set before us however this affects the media work especially taking on the public’s perception about the media house,” Kariisa said.