How media covered the riots

Wednesday September 18 2019

Coverage. How newspapers covered the September

Coverage. How newspapers covered the September 2009 riots. 

By Arthur Arnold Wadero

Local media

We are aware of their plans and this particular move is intended to endanger the Kabaka. But we are watching with caution,” Mr Medard Lubega Sseggona, the then deputy information minister of Buganda Kingdom said two days before the violence broke out. (Daily Monitor, September 7, 2009)

Police deploy over Kabaka trip (New Vision, September 7, 2009)
“We anticipate a law and order problem. We have reinforced what we had deployed. When tensions come, we have responsibility to ensure law and order,” said Gen Kale Kayihura, the then Inspector General of Police.

Police teargas kingdom officials (September 8, 2009)
“We call upon the President, whom we respect and fear, not to keep quiet when all rights are being trampled. Maj Gen Kale Kayihura has the role to provide security to all Ugandans if he lives by his oath and to justify the salary he draws from taxpayers’ money. There is an ongoing project to undermine and breakup the kingdom of Buganda by using opportunists who claim to speak for ethnic minorities in Buganda.

These are self-seekers being given full use and backing of state machinery including security apparatus, to create no-go areas for the Kabaka of Buganda and thus create chiefdoms,” said Mr Sseggona.

Mengo tells Museveni to apologise (September 9, 2009)
“The Kabaka has no reason for apologising. It is the President who should instead apologise to his majesty for unnecessarily meddling into the kingdom issues. They have always tried to limit [the Kabaka’s] movements yet those are mere visits to his subjects,” Mr Sseggona.

“We shall not sleep in our homes until this war is over. We are still mobilising for Baganda who want to attack us and we shall fight to the last person,” said Capt Baker Kimeze, leader of the Banyala community that sought to secede from Buganda Kingdom.

Trigger of the riots
When Buganda Katikkiro (prime minister) Mr John Baptist Walusimbi was intercepted at Sezibwa bridge en-route to Kayunga ahead of the Kabaka’s (king) visit, a section of youth at Kisekka Market in Kampala poured on streets and protests followed. This later came off as the trigger of the larger scale riots. Here is what was said then and after.

Kingdom premier barred from Kayunga as CBS radio is switched off air (Daily Monitor, September 10, 2009)


“Honourable Katikkiro, you are humbly requested not to proceed to Kayunga, the security situation in Kayunga is not good for you.” -- Mr Grace Turyagumanawe, police Deputy Director of Operations.
“I am just a simple man but I am being blocked. What if I were the Kabaka?” Katikkiro J.B. Walusimbi.

“Yes, we did switch off [the radios] because we do not want a repeat of the Rwanda situation where radio stations there reported things contrary to what was on ground. People have been dying but CBS [Central Broadcasting Service] was encouraging us to join the riots. Let us first save people who are dying before we incite others,” Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the then chairman of the Broadcasting Council, said.

10 feared dead in city riots as Museveni, Kabaka disagree (Daily Monitor, September 10, 2009)
“We shall not allow the visit to take place unless these conditions are met. However, I am ready to talk to the Kabaka,” President Museveni said.

“I don’t care whether the government frames or arrests me because they have done that before. The only thing I care about is my freedom and the freedom of other Ugandans. No amount of coercion will intimidate me,” said Dr Kizza Besigye, former president of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party.

Speaking out. Opposition leader  Kizza Besigye
Speaking out. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye addresses journalists during the September 2009 riots.

“I spoke to the Kabaka and he is safe and fine. But we can’t guarantee his security since the government has successfully created a crisis in the country,” Mr Apollo Makubuya, then Buganda attorney general said.

“I rang His Highness but he could not pick my calls or even return the courtesy. His Highness could not pick calls [from] the President of Uganda, who led the struggle to restore traditional institutions!” President Museveni wondered.

“This issue first came up in May and ever since it came up, I have been trying to talk to him [Kabaka] and he persistently refused to answer my calls. Last evening at 8pm, I told [Principal Private Secretary Amelia Kyambadde] to call Kabaka again. This time the Kabaka responded. He rang Amelia and Amelia called me but I was having dinner with guests and I told her I was not in position to talk. Amelia again called at 10:30pm and I was able to talk to his Highness. The Kabaka said that it was not necessary for him to answer my calls because he does not deal with political matters. I am not an employee of the Katikkiro. I am the President of Uganda,” said President Museveni.

Sleepy Kayunga offers Museveni, Mengo battlefield (September 11, 2009)
“What we are seeing today is a frustration by Mengo because they thought that the restoration of monarchies [in 1993] would take Buganda back to the pre-1966 era [of federalism],” Tamale Mirundi, then Presidential Press Secretary then.

Maj Gen Otafiire blames Museveni (September 10, 2009)
“We told him [Mr Museveni] not to return these obsolete institutions and he did not listen to us. He begged, he pleaded, he went on his knees and the army grudgingly accepted to return these things and they are now paying him in good currency.” Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the then Trade minister.

Museveni sets conditions for Kabaka’s visit to Kayunga (New Vision, September 11, 2009)
“My reaction to these issues is to ring the Kabaka and we sort them out as mature people. But he could not pick my calls for the last two years. We are following these reports closely and we shall treat all people involved accordingly. I encourage Kabaka Mutebi to distance himself from these Judases. We have fought many wars and we shall win this one,” Mr Museveni said, two days into the riots.

Protests. People burn tyres in Wandegeya during
Protests. People burn tyres in Wandegeya during the September 2009 riots.

Government to regulate traditional leaders (September 12)
“Can you imagine, I have been trying to get access to the Kabaka for the last two years? Yet it is me who restored the kingdoms! Mengo is not aware that FDC wants to use them and then dump them the way UPC did. How can they allow FDC to hold rallies at Bulange?” He [Libyan president Mummar Gaddafi, now deceased] has thrown out Thabo Mbeki and I am now his next target. He wants to achieve his ambition through kingdoms. But we can’t allow,” President Museveni.

City rioters had guns- Kayihura (September 14)
“Some of these rioters are veterans from police and army who know how to use guns,” Gen Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police.

International media

Royal riots expose Uganda tension, BBC (September 17, 2009)
“It [rioting] was not about failing to address the problems concerning Buganda. It was about some elements trying to use that monarchy to get political power,” President Museveni.

Should we even discuss these issues with the kings? Or should we leave it to the political leaders? Prince Charles does not talk about partisan politics in Britain, and nor should they,” President Museveni added.

“It’s not so much a government-in-waiting, as a de facto government. We do not want to take power from central government at all. We just want the legal authority to run our affairs in a federal system, just as it was in the post-colonial constitution,” -- Apollo Makubuya, Buganda Attorney General.

Kampala hit by renewed violence (Reuters, September 11, 2009)
“He has postponed it [visit]. We do not want to see an escalation of the violence,” Buganda minister Sseggona told Reuters.

Ugandan Capital calm after 14 killed in riots (Reuters, September 12)
“We carried out our investigations and found that 14 people, including one police officer who was coming from leave was ambushed by these hoodlums, have been killed since the beginning of the riots,” said Gen Kale Kayihura, the then Inspector General of Police.
“We think we have neutralised all the groups which have been causing disturbances for the last two days. The city and suburbs are calm now,” Ms Judith Nabakooba, the then police spokesperson.

Gawaya Tegule, lawyer
“The [Kayunga] visit grew more significant after the central government began chopping off chunks of Buganda and having them install their own traditional leaders, projects the President’s inside men admit were systematically organised and nicely funded in order to weaken [Buganda] leaders’ influence. With two huge institutional egos up against each other, blood was inevitable,” Gawaya’s article published in Daily Monitor and quoted by Reuters.

“The government is employing sweeping measures and making broad assertions to crack down on critical media,” said Tom Rhodes, African programme coordinator for the NewYork-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Cable News Network (CNN)
At least 21 people died in Ugandan riots, police say (September 14, 2009)
“Both the Central Government and the king are still working out details of the meeting,” Daudi Migereko, then government’s chief whip quoted by CNN.

“U.S citizens should be aware that even peaceful gatherings and demonstrations can turn unexpectedly violent,” the State Department travel alerts said.

September 11
‘Sectarian’ broadcasts on Thursday that “systematically incited listeners to cause chaos and destruction wherever they could,” said a statement by Uganda Minister of Information and National Guidance, Ms Kabakumba Masiko.

Aljazeera (September 11)
“I told him [the king] that the meeting in Kayunga will not take place until some conditions that will be communicated to him by the Minister of Internal Affairs are met.” -- President Museveni.

“We are not going to be intimidated by the government into giving up our demands.” --Mr Sseggona, deputy information minister of Buganda Kingdom.

“We have fought many wars and we shall win this one.” -- President Museveni (New York Times)