Uganda Parliament asks Internal Affairs Minister to explain Monitor closure

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Parliament has ordered the State Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr James Baba, to explain the closure of  Monitor Publications Limited and Red Pepper Publications.

Police also shut down KFM and Dembe FM, the two radio stations owned and managed by the Monitor Publications. During the Tuesday plenary debate, a day after the two media houses were raided by armed police personnel over their publication of parts of a letter allegedly written by Gen David Sejusa, legislators insisted that the minister explains why the media houses are still under siege.

Busiro East MP Medard Segona raised the matter, asking Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to put to task Minister Baba to explain the police siege. Mr Segona wondered whether the Coordinator of Intelligence Services, Gen Sejusa, is a fugitive to make police and government demand for his letter from media houses.

Police said the siege and search was authorised by court.

In the letter allegedly written on April 29 but first published in the local media on May 7, Gen Sejusa alleges among others that President Yoweri Museveni is fast-tracking his son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to succeed him as president.

The General further alleged in the letter that there is a plan to eliminate political and military leaders opposed to the plan referred to as the "Muhoozi Project". It is this letter that the police said they were looking for when they raided the two media houses.

Minister Baba told the House that he goes by the decision of the police and they followed the law. Mr Stephen Ochola, the Serere County MP, wondered how radio stations were closed yet they had nothing to do with what was published in the Daily Monitor.

Buikwe South MP Lulume Bayiga asked whether the police had an order to close the media houses yet what they got from court was a search warrant.

The legislators said turning the headquarters of the closed media houses into scenes of crime is sheer dictatorship which undermines media freedom. Mr Oulanyah ruled in favour of the MPs and asked the minister to make a statement, explaining why the media houses were closed.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor, May 22 2013: