Kabaka Rejects Museveni Conditions For Re-Opening Radio

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A spokesman for the Kabaka tells The Black Star News that the Museveni government, which is struggling to recover from heavy international criticism over a bill in parliament that would allow the death sentence for homosexuals, wants Mutebi II to take responsibility for the deaths of the demonstrators.

[Black Star News International Exclusive: Uganda]

The Kabaka of Buganda has rejected the Uganda government's condition that he accept responsibility for the deaths of civilians during last year's protest before he's allowed to re-open a popular radio station, The Black Star News has learned.

As many as 27 civilians were shot to death by government forces during protests last year between September 10-to 12, near Kampala, Uganda's capital.

The protests broke out after military police blocked the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II's prime minister from traveling to Kayunga, a region where Mutebi II was to visit a few days later. Critics contend the government of Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni is trying to promote a rival hereditary leader in Kayunga, which is within Buganda, to dilute Mutebi II's influence.

The Kabaka is Buganda's traditional hereditary monarch and is revered by the Baganda, as the people from the region are known. Buganda additionally is Uganda's most populous region. It's believed that the dictatorial government of General Museveni fears the expansion of Mutebi II's influence. Even though the Kabaka is nominally supposed to stay out of politics, his endorsement of a candidate in next year's presidential election in Uganda could be decisive.

The fallout from the killing of civilians in Buganda from Museveni's agents will likely cost the regime Buganda votes.

Shortly after the killings, Museveni's government shut down the Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) radio, which is privately-owned and is seen as supportive of the Kabaka, who is also a major shareholder.

A spokesman for the Kabaka tells The Black Star News that the Museveni government, which is struggling to recover from heavy international criticism over a bill in parliament that would allow the death sentence for homosexuals, wants Mutebi II to take responsibility for the deaths of the demonstrators.

Additionally, the Museveni government wants Kababa Mutebi II to publicly apologize for the deaths, which the government claims would not have occurred had CBS radio not incited the public into demonstrating against the government.

“The government has agreed that they are not going to re-open the radio until the Kabaka surrenders all his shares, take it out of Bulange and the radio disassociate itself from Kingship of Buganda,” said the Kabaka's deputy minister for information, Medard Lubega Segona, in a telephone interview.

The Kabaka is allowed to operate his own administration which focuses on issues pertaining to the traditional monarchy and Bulange is a reference to the area covering Mutebi II’s seat of power.

“We can’t take responsibility for the 27 deaths-killed during the September demonstrations," Segona added. "They can’t kill people and don’t take this responsibility.”

The Kabaka's official continued: “They had guns and we didn’t have guns. We never killed people; why are we pushed for an apology? People were killed with gun shots; they killed people.”

The issue of CBS radio is taking a central stage as Uganda heads into the 2011 election. Recently, the U.S. Congress issued a directive to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to monitor the election, including preparations.

The directive, which is part of the U.S. Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010, in addition to  independence of the electoral commission, accurate and verifiable voter registry, announcement and posting of results at polling stations, freedom of movement and assembly, security and protection of candidates, also calls for "freedom of the media."

Clinton is expected to issue her first report in March as required by the directive and it's unclear whether it will cover the shut down of CBS radio. Segona also didn’t say whether the Kabaka’s officials had contacted Clinton to say the station’s closing  violated the directive.

http://www.blackstarnews.com/news/122/ARTICLE/6207/2010-01-13.html

“The rioters and those who sponsored the riots should take responsibility for the September killings,” said the commander of Uganda's police force, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, when reached for comment by telephone today. “Rioting is a crime under penal code of Uganda.”

The U.S. and U.K. governments had been major supporters of Gen. Museveni. In a letter dated October 23, 2009 to this reporter after The Black Star News made inquiries about London's position after the killings of the demonstrators, the UK’s Minister of State for Africa, Baroness Kinnock, wrote:

“The Uganda authorities have told us that this will be investigated and that, where appropriate, individuals will be held to account.”

Minister Kinnock also wrote: “We also raise our concerns with the Foreign Minister about the suspension of radio stations in Uganda. With other members of the international community in Uganda we have also emphasized the importance of peaceful dialogue and political process in order to resolve differences.”

The minister also wrote, "We continue to push for more action on politically motivated harassment, illegal detention, and media freedom."


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