It’s been over two months since Uganda decided, but the country is still yet to settle down as agitations persist on the final election results. President Yoweri Museveni who extended his 30-year rule had his victory upheld by the Supreme Court in March and should ordinarily be sworn in for his fifth term on the 12th of May.
Opposition leader, Kizza Besigye who has described the February vote as a sham and enjoys a dedicated following, often foiled by numerous clashes with the Ugandan police force is currently sealed off in his home by security forces. The reason? The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has called for a “defiance campaign”, which is basically an election result protest, against the 71-year old leader (President Museveni) extending his 30-year rule.
A court had already ruled last week that the defiance campaign against the election result was illegal but the Forum for Democratic Change has insisted on continuing with it. The government has therefore issued a threat that any media organization that covers the election results protest could loose their license. The threat also extends to all types of social media coverage, for which the head of Uganda’s Communications Commission promises punishment.
The media organisations have been told succinctly not to carry out live interviews with opposition members or show their activities in real time during their protests and there is currently a heavy military and police deployment around the city in anticipation of opposition action. The aggressive stance by the government is truly disturbing, especially since live television coverage is a key part of the way political news is being reported.
When the President had ordered that social media be blocked in Uganda on the day of the election, he had attributed his decision to checkmating any instances of foul play. But with this current muzzling of media organisations, a new trend may just be emerging in Uganda. For the main time though, all we can do is sit back and see if any of the media organisations will be daring enough to go against the government’s order and give us a first hand look at the election result protest.