At least 18 Ugandan protesters were arrested yesterday in Kampala for what the Ugandan police termed as disobeying lawful orders not to hold unauthorized demonstrations.
The protesters, most of whom are supporters of Uganda’s main opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye, were protesting the detention of close to 100 opposition supporters contesting the re-election of the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni.
President Museveni, who will be sworn in on 12 May to extend his 30-year rule by another five years, was controversially re-elected in February after clinching 60 percent of the vote in an election marred by allegations of rigging and intimidation of opposition supporters.
Tension has been rife in Uganda since President Museveni was declared winner, with frequent arrests of the opposition leader Dr. Besigye who called the poll “fraud”.
European Union election observers criticized the election saying it was conducted in an intimidating environment and the electoral body lacked independence and transparency.
However, Ugandan electoral officials said the poll was free and fair, with the country’s Supreme Court rejecting a case filed by the opposition contesting against the election outcome.
Media Warned Against Live Coverage of Protests
Following the protests that rocked Kampala yesterday, the Ugandan government issued a directive banning the media from covering the planned protests live, threatening to revoke licenses of any media house that defied the order.
In a statement released on Thursday, Uganda’s Minister for Information and National Guidance Jim Muhwezi said the planned demonstrations by the Ugandan protesters will violate a court order issued last week by Uganda’s constitutional court.
“All live broadcast of defiance activities should stop. Any media house that continues to cover them risks having their license revoked,” Muhwezi warned.
The minister, who was once impeached by the Ugandan parliament for corruption allegations, added that the decision to stop planned protests was reached by the Ugandan cabinet.
He insisted the protests cannot continue because there is a court order barring such activities, warning that the protests are aimed at disrupting the upcoming inauguration of President Museveni.
Accompanying the Minister at the press conference were Ugandan police chiefs, communications commission executive director Godfrey Mutabazi and heads of different media houses, perhaps to show the gravity of the order.