Excitement, disbelief, hugs, jovial and happy faces is what can best describe journalists at the now opened Pepper Publications. After 10 days under police siege, government on Thursday reopened Uganda’s newspaper of the year, the mighty Red Pepper after negotiations with management.
Red Pepper’s CEO who attended the meeting says Govt does not want Red Pepper to write about matters to do with the army and National security. The government also says that if Red Pepper is to write about matters of security, it should be careful not to incite the public.
This came just hours after the outgoing minister of internal affairs Hilary Onek announcing the re-opening of Daily Monitor newspaper and its two affiliated radio stations, KFM and Dembe.
Speaking after receiving the premises from deputy Director of Criminal Investigations, Godfrey Musana, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the Director Marketing and Digital Media, said they had agreed to terms.
Rugyendo said they had held a long meeting with Minister Onek, Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura and Rose Mary Namayanja, the in-coming Minister of Information and National Guidance.
Earlier, The Red Pepper Managing Director Richard Tusiime had objected to dialoging with government arguing that this was a political question.
The media houses were closed on May 20th, as police commenced what it called a search for a letter written by General David Sejusa, the Coordinator of Intelligence Services. Sejusa claimed that there is a plan by president Museveni to eliminate government officials opposed to his maneuvers to have his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, become president.
Though the Red Pepper had handed over the documents police wanted, police refused to leave their premises. To save itself from further revenue loses and possible closure, The Red Pepper undertook to be sensitive to security and military issues, one of the conditions the Monitor officials agreed to.
They vowed to remain balanced, fair and adhere to the set out standards in the Press and Journalists Act.
According to Rugyendo, The Red Pepper also promised to maintain a strict get-keeping function on the paper’s content.
Rugyendo, who is also Secretary to the Board, revealed that during the meeting they had asked for a mechanism where some of these issues can be discussed between government and the media without waiting for confrontation.
Asked whether, the public would have The Red Pepper out on the street tomorrow; Rugyendo responded in the affirmative.
Before handing over the premises in Namanve, the Deputy Director CID, Godfrey Musana took the Red Pepper Directors on a tour of the premises.