Uganda: Besigye Blocked From Kitgum Radio Show

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A Kitgum-based private radio station, Kitti FM, was switched off for several hours on Saturday evening - 30 minutes after FDC President Kizza Besigye had started talking. Events began at 9:00 p.m. when Lucy Omona, the wife of station director Johnson Omona, arrived barefoot half an hour into the two-hour programme and switched off the generator leaving the studio in darkness.

Ms Omona said Kitgum RDC Nahaman Ojwe had allegedly called her husband threatening to close the station permanently and arrest him if Dr Besigye continued with the show. She said the RDC declared the talk-show illegal and could, therefore, not go on. "There was nothing illegal," said Lucy Acci, the station manager. "The clients [read FDC] bought airtime for two hours. For anybody to disrupt a legal process was unfortunate."

But Ojwe denied the claims that he ordered Ms Omona to switch off the radio or risk punishment. "This is not true," he said. "In any case, what do I have to do with a private radio station? I have not even called the station manager or the director. I am a journalist and I cannot interfere with the freedom of the press." Ojwe is a former journalist with Radio Uganda, now UBC-Radio. However, Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar and Rubaga North MP Beti Kamya described Ojwe's action as barbaric.

Ms Anywar said she would petition President Museveni challenging Ojwe's continued presence in the district after the district passed a resolution for his removal. "We condemn this act by the RDC," she said. "He is just confusing our people because President Museveni has continued to appoint political failures. This is unfortunate."

Both MPs are accompanying Dr Besigye, who is on his first visit to northern Uganda since the February 2006 general elections.

The Monitor (Kampala), 28 May 2007