Brutal Media Clampdown: Uganda President's Grip Slips As Top Army Brass Split
Ugandan president Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni and his feared Police Commander, General Kale Kayihura have ordered the police forces to teargas and beat up Ugandan journalists and media freedom-campaigners who were protesting the continued closure of the country's main independent newspaper, the Daily Monitor and other other media outlets.
Several journalists are reported injured, as the stand-off between the authorities and media-rights campaigners continues.
This latest brutality by the repressive Gen. Museveni regime comes against strong condemnation of the government’s rough handling of media practitioners and the unabated state violation of the constitutional rights and freedoms of journalists and the wider Uganda public.
The United Nations, European Union, and countries like the United States, as well as Amnesty International, East African Legislative Assembly and several local Ugandan human rights and civil society organizations have all condemned the repressive acts of the Ugandan government which are directed at putting an end to free expression.
A local court has also ordered the police to vacate the occupied media houses --including The Monitor which remained surrounded by heavily armed security forces-- but the newly promoted police commander Gen. Kayihura has stated that the Kampala government will not bow down to any kind of pressure.
The current media and human rights clampdown in Uganda was sparked off by a letter written by General David Sejusa, also known as Tinyefuza, the powerful head of Uganda's intelligence services, questioning the supposed plot by the Gen. Museveni regime to assassinate top military commanders and government ministers who are opposed to a secret Museveni project to make his son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba a future Ugandan President.
Brigadier Muhoozi is currently the Commander of the elite Special Forces Group (SFG) which also operates as Museveni’s Presidential Guard and also protects the nation's oil fields.
General Sejusa has since fled to the UK, where he has asked for close government protection as he believes that Gen. Museveni has dispatched a group of assassins to kill him. General Sejusa's intervention has divided the military and political leadership in Uganda, and led to the firing of General Aronda Nyakairima from his post as army chief, and other senior officers.
According to well informed observers of the Ugandan political landscape, Gen. Museveni, who has ruled Uganda with an iron grip for over 26 years, seems to be losing his power over sections of the military, at a time when he is faced with widespread anti-regime activism from his political opponents, both within the ruling NRM party and the active opposition.
A growing number of Ugandans are opposed to Museveni’s immediate plan to stand again as Presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, but more and more powerful voices from among the country’s leadership are speaking out against Museveni’s yet undeclared but real plot to impose his son Muhoozi as President whenever he decides to retire.
The political situation in the East African nation is rapidly deteriorating, leading the American CIA in its assessment of Uganda to predict a violent civil war in 2014.Other observers on the ground are talking of a possible military coup led by disenchanted generals, while opposition leaders continue to warn of mass protest and riots against the Gen. Museveni regime.
Dr. Vincent Magombe is a Ugandan journalist and Broadcaster, and Director of Africa Inform International.