Parliament has ordered the state minister for internal affairs James Baba to issue a statement regarding the closure of the Monitor and Red Pepper publications.
In a heated plenary debate on Tuesday, a day after the two media houses were raided by armed police personnel over their coverage of a letter allegedly written by General David Sejusa, legislators insisted that the minister explains why the media houses are still under siege. The two national papers did not come out today and it is highly likely that they will not be on the newsstands tomorrow. KFM and Dembe FM, two radio stations owned and managed by the Monitor Publications were also shut down.
In Parliament, Busiro East MP Medard Segona raised the matter asking the deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah to task Minister Baba to explain why the two publications and radio stations KFM and Dembe FM are still closed.
He wondered whether the head of the national intelligence services Gen. David Sejusa is a fugitive that the police and government have to demand for his letter from the media houses instead of him. Police issued a statement yesterday saying that the siege and search was authorized by court and that police is looking for a letter written by General Sejusa, commonly known as Tinyefuza.
In the letter allegedly written on April 29 but first published in the local media on May 7, Sejusa alleges among others that President Yoweri Museveni is fast-tracking his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him as president. The general further alleges that there is a plan to eliminate political and military leaders opposed to the plan referred to as the Muhoozi Project. It is this letter that the police said they were looking for when they raided media houses.
Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga stated that while police had a search warrant they locked out the owners of the media houses and questioned the admissibility of the evidence in case they insist that they are moving lawfully.
Minister Baba told the House that he goes by the decision of the police and they did follow the legal procedure. He also argued that this followed demands by the police to give them a copy of Gen. Sejusa’s letter which demands were turned down by the media houses.
Serere county MP Stephen Ochola demanded for clarification as to why if the police are looking for the letter in the newspaper offices they should close the radio stations which are electronic.
Buikwe South MP Lulume Bayega asked whether the police had an order to close since they went with a search warrant. Another MP Joshua Anyakorach said turning the radio stations into a scene of crime is undermining media freedom adding that the action also infringes on the rights of the radio listeners’.
Deputy Speaker Oulanyah then ruled that the matter was urgent, touched on security and general unrest among people who think that something was wrong and the Minister should provide a statement.