By Henry D Gombya
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today stands accused of dragging Uganda back to the old bad days of Dictator Idi Amin after he ordered security forces to ransack the offices off one of the country’s leading daily, the Daily Monitor, forcing it to halt its publication work after security men entered the building and disabled the paper’s plant.
People of Uganda are now walking the streets in fear of being arrested for placing posters of any kind on trees or electricity lamp posts, saying anything critical of the government or walking to work in protest of high taxi fares. Surprisingly, no journalist is safe from harassment by state security, Often journalists working for the government-owned New Vision newspaper or the state’s national radio and TV have been beaten up and, as in one instance last week, threatened to be ‘disabled’ if they covered certain areas of sensitive reports connected with the government.
The siege at the Monitor offices yesterday took the state of fear among Ugandans to yet another unprecedented level when it became clear that newspapers are now not permitted to reproduce articles critical of government even if they come from high ranking officers of the Museveni government. They may also not air critical views of those either outside government or within it. As in Idi Amin’s days, Ugandans are now walking and going about their businesses constantly looking over their shoulders wondering who is following them or what they might have said in public that would seem critical of the Museveni government that has been in power since 1986.
Information on what was happening at the Kampala offices of the Daily Monitor reached our news desk early Monday when one of our readers sent us a Yahoo! Messenger message saying the Monitor offices and that of a tabloid Kampala daily, Red Pepper had been surrounded by security forces.