Media outlets in Uganda have been threatened with closure if they report on opposition protest ahead of the inauguration ceremony for President Yoweri Museveni’s fifth term, scheduled to take place in Kampala on May 12.
The warning signal has been issued by the Ugandan Minister for Information and National Guidance ,Jim Muhwezi .
In a statement, the information minister warned journalists that any news outlet that reports on opposition protests over the conduct of February’s presidential elections could face closure, according to press reports.
Uganda’s political opposition has called for nationwide protests to mark President Museveni’s inauguration ceremony.
“All live broadcast of defiance activities should stop. Any media house that continues to cover them risks having their license revoked,” Muhwezi, a retired military officer, told reporters, according to Kampala’s daily Monitor.
Those who cover the protests on social media could also be punished, the head of Uganda’s Communications Commission said.
In a switch reaction to the move, the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) has called on the Ugandan authorities to cease attempting to intimidate journalists in an effort to keep them from covering protests.
“The Ugandan government must stop trying to bully the media into silence,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said in a press release.
“Political protests are news and the press has a duty to the public to report on them”, the CPJ statement added.
Uganda’s opposition Forum for Democratic Change, citing local and international observers, alleges that the elections were marked by irregularities and should be held again, according to press reports.
But the Ugandan authorities have rebuffed the claim saying the poll was fair, and in late April obtained a court order declaring the protests illegal.
According to CPJ, research has found that attacks against reporters covering the election have produced a climate of fear among Ugandan journalists.