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Day ten: Police continue Daily Monitor occupation as journalists are teargassed

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Some of the journalists who participated in the demonstration being roughed up by police.

Some of the journalists who participated in the demonstration being roughed up by police. Photo by Faiswal Kasirye. 

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

Posted  Wednesday, May 29   2013 at  19:28
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Police occupation of Daily Monitor and the Red Pepper premises continued Wednesday as both local and international supports for the closed media houses gains further momentum.

As the management of the Monitor Publications continue its engagement with the authority, including taking the battle to court, journalists from different media houses, civil society, UN and diplomatic missions have all showed solidarity as the closure of the media houses entered day ten.

Like before, Mr Alex Asiimwe, the Monitor Publications Managing Director said avenues for engagement haven’t broken down yet, stressing that discussions are ongoing and that it is a matter of time before situation gets to normal.

On Tuesday, Mr Asiimwe told marketing and sales staff that there are indications that the ongoing engagements between the management of Monitor Publications Limited and the government will soon yield fruit.

On Wednesday, armed police officers kept guard at the Daily Monitor premises on 8th Street, Namuwongo, beat and tear-gassed journalists from the several media houses in the country. The journalists were participating in a solidarity march against the siege.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) has not only condemned the closure of Daily Monitor and other media houses but also resolved to petition Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the East African Legislative Assembly over the matter.

UPPA President Agnes Nandutu described the closure of five newspapers and two radio stations as a “ferocious” and called upon the authorities in government to stop “playing games” and re-open the media houses.

“Gen David Sejusa did not address his letter to Daily Monitor; therefore, it’s ludicrous that the police are asking the newspaper to produce the original copy of the same letter,” Ms Nandutu said in a Wednesday press conference “How can government stifle free media and preach democracy yet freedom of the press is an epitome of democracy as enshrined in Article 29 of our Constitution?”

The Daily Monitor’s sister radios—93.3 KFM and Dembe FM, all remains switched off.

Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura said Monday that the continued occupation of Daily Monitor premises, despite a court order directing the police to leave, is legal according to Section 27 of the Police Act. He went ahead to say that not until the letter authored by Gen Sejusa is produced, Daily Monitor and its two sister radios—KFM and Dembe will remain closed indefinitely.

Mr Kayihura was speaking shortly after leading a procession through the city streets to celebrate his promotion to the military rank of General.

On Monday May 20th, police surrounded the Daily Monitor premises, bringing the operations of the newspaper and its two sister radios, all housed in the same building, to a halt.

The raid followed a story the Daily Monitor published in which Gen. David Sejusa wrote to the Director General of Internal Security Organisation, asking him to investigate claims that there is a plot to assassinate top government officials opposed to President Museveni’s alleged move to have his son, and the Commander of Special Forces Command, Brig. Keinerugaba Muhoozi, succeed him as President.

Additional reporting by Yasiin Mugerwa

iladu@ug.nationmedia.com