In the space of two weeks, two radio stations in Uganda were taken off the air, minutes into their talk shows during which they were hosting Dr. Kizza Besigye, leader of the opposition party Forum for Democratic Change.
This statement was originally published on hrnjuganda.org on 18 April 2019.
Police and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) in Mubende district have this Thursday 18th April, 2019 stormed Mubende FM radio and switched it off in a bid to stop a talk show in which the former Forum for Democratic Change President, Dr. Kizza Besigye had been hosted.
Mubende FM in Central Uganda becomes the third private radio in a space of two weeks to be switched off by the police for hosting Dr. Besigye, a four-time presidential candidate.
Just after about 10 minutes on air, Mubende FM Radio broadcasting at 106, was surrounded by heavily armed police officers led by the District Police Commander Martin Okoyo and RDC Ms Mary Nyakwera Baguma and switched off the station from the mast. The talk show was hosted by Yusuf Kibalama.
The Mubende FM studio door was forced open by the police who pulled out Dr. Besigye. His supporters who had gathered outside Pride Travelers Hotel, which houses the radio, were teargassed and arrested before whisking Besigye away.
On Saturday, 13th April and 4th April 2019, Kiira FM based in Jinja and Hope Radio in Kabale Municipality were switched off respectively, a few minutes into the shows.
In all the shut downs of the said radios, no authoritative directives from the Uganda Communications Commission which is the regulatory body were presented by the police, neither did they quote any law under which the stations were switched off, hence ending the talk shows pre-maturely.
At Kiira FM, two glass panels at the studios were left broken when forcing Dr. Besigye out.
“The acts by the security to storm radio stations and subsequently switch them off with total disregard of the law is arbitrary, illegal and an affront to freedom of the media, expression and speech, all of which are key tenets of democracy. Such acts will be challenged in courts of law as they are a direct interference with the media as provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and other regional and international instruments to which Uganda is a signatory. Under a multiparty political dispensation in Uganda, the media is free to host all political views, so the police should desist from attacking media houses for giving space to the political opposition” said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director, Robert Ssempala.