May 29, 2013

MEDIA SIEGE: UK Issues Travel Warning For Uganda

The government of the United Kingdom has issued a travel warning for its citizens asking them to exercise caution and avoid all demonstrations, and to continue monitoring travel advice following yesterday’s skirmishes as police clashed with journalists protesting the closure of the Pepper Publications and Monitor Publications last Monday.

Al Jazeera journalist, Malcolm Webb (R) runs for safety after being tear-gassed outside Daily Monitor offices in Kampala on May 28 (Photo by Isaac Kasamani)
Al Jazeera journalist, Malcolm Webb (R) runs for safety after being tear-gassed outside Daily Monitor offices in Kampala on May 28 (Photo by Isaac Kasamani)

We advise all British Nationals to exercise caution and avoid all demonstrations, and to continue monitoring travel advice,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said in a statement on Tuesday night.

Pundits say the closure of the newspapers could affect tourism revenues as tourists from western countries shun Uganda for fear of violence. An estimated 15,000 British nationals visit Uganda every year.

The statement adds; “There were demonstrations outside the offices of the Daily Monitor newspaper in the Namuwongo area of Kampala on 28 May. There are reports that tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse protesters.

Several activists and journalists were tear-gassed as they challenged government’s decision to keep a lock on Daily Monitor and Red Pepper offices.

The newspapers were shut down ten days ago after publishing details of a letter authored by exiled Coordinator of Intelligence Organs, Gen David Sejusa (Tinyefuza).

The decorated NRA war hero said those opposed to the idea of Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba succeeding his father, President Yoweri Museveni, were targeted for assassination.

The army has since denied the existence of the “Muhoozi project” and accused Sejusa of spreading harmful propaganda and making divisive remarks in a wrong forum.

Sejusa has been in London since April 30 with international media reports saying he has requested protection of British police.

FCO’s statement further cautioned that, “Some political demonstrations have become violent without warning.”

“We continue to advise caution around political demonstrations and rallies. There have in the past been instances of demonstrations on political issues becoming violent without warning, causing loss of life and injury,” the statement noted.

“The most recent were opposition protests in October 2011. There was also serious rioting in Kampala in September 2009. We recommend that you exercise caution and avoid large demonstrations and rallies where possible.”

UK also advised its citizens against all travel to Karamoja region in north eastern Uganda (the districts of Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Katakwi, Kaabong) with the exception of trips to Kidepo Valley National Park, which they should make by air.

 

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