Party slams Museveni over media

KAMPALA - Uganda's main opposition party has said President Yoweri Museveni is planning to deny it media access ahead of the country's presidential elections early next year.

KAMPALA - Uganda's main opposition party has said President Yoweri Museveni is planning to deny it media access ahead of the country's presidential elections early next year.

Museveni has been in power for 24 years and is expected to run for another five-year term. He was initially hailed for restoring the rule of law and fixing Uganda's economy.

But both international and local criticism has mounted in the last five years against his growing autocracy.

Kiiza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change party, said he was surprised on a recent trip to northern Uganda that FM radio stations had cancelled his scheduled appearances on "orders from above" and refunded him his fees.

"When we asked why my appearance was cancelled, station managers would cite 'orders from above'," Besigye said earlier this week.

He said the National Resistance Movement - Museveni's party - was increasing its harassment of media houses that give a voice to opposition politicians to criticise the president.

Minister of Information and National Guidance Kabakumba Matsiko dismissed Besigye's accusations.

"Besigye is a liar. He went to northern Uganda where he thought he still had mass support but when people there didn't welcome him and radio owners refused to host him, he started blaming government," she said.

FM stations have flourished in Uganda in the last two decades and are the most effective communication medium to the rural areas where poverty and illiteracy limits newspaper circulation.

"Equal access to media ... is one of the reforms that we want implemented for an equal and fair election," Besigye said. - Reuters

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