A television station in Uganda has been banned from covering presidential events after it broadcast images which it said showed President Yoweri Museveni snoozing in parliament.
Dennis Katungi, the government’s media centre manager, told AFP: “The president has habits, he meditates and they know it, and still they go out and say he was sleeping. The suspension should not be permanent. It’s temporary, to make them think.”
Museveni seized power in 1986 and is now one of Africa’s longest serving leaders although, at the age of 69, he is far from the oldest. In 2011 he tried to appeal to the youth vote by releasing a rap song. Earlier this year he was widely condemned for signing an anti-homosexuality bill into law.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo confirmed that NTV Uganda would be punished over the catnap claim, accusing it of a “lack of professionalism and biased coverage”. He said: “We have suspended their coverage of the president as we reconsider our relationship with them.”
NTV Uganda, owned by the Kenyan-based Nation Media Group, told AFP it had not been informed of the sanction.
Media watchdogs have expressed concern over dwindling freedom of expression in Uganda. Last year the government closed the two main independent newspapers for 10 days after they reported arguments among army generals over whether Museveni’s son should succeed him.
Meanwhile police said they arrested two men who infiltrated parliament and deposited two piglets in an anti-corruption protest. Fred Enanga, a police spokesman, told AFP: “We got the two youths and the piglets. They are in our custody as we investigate how they went through security.”
The protesters had painted the piglets in the colours of Museveni’s ruling party and had written slogans insulting MPs as corrupt on the animals, officials said.
Witness Ruth Namukasa said the two demonstrators were apparently unemployed, and called themselves the “jobless brotherhood group”. She added: “One of the piglets had been painted with words, ‘yes, MPigs, corruption constituency.’”
Earlier this year it emerged that MPs had demanded a huge pay rise, already 60 times higher than most state employees, and that the country’s chief auditor had complained deputies failed to account for millions of dollars of expenses.
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