Monday, 5 October 2009

Uganda is warming up for 2011 election

For the time I have been off the blogging business a number of things have taken place in Uganda. Some of these were surprising while others were not.

First, there were riots that took three days (from September 10 to 12) in Kampala and surrounding areas after the Buganda king was denied entry and touring one of his kingdom's counties, Bugerere (present day Kayunga district) about 130 km north of Kampala.

The riots mounted mainly by jobless youths culminated into the death of over 30 people, according to police sources, and arrest of more than 600 people and destruction of property worth millions of shillings. Buganda and central government have been confronting each other over the former's demand for a federal status within Uganda; a thing which President Museveni says is impossible.

In a move that appears to be aimed at weakening Buganda, the NRM government has been curving Buganda territories into semiautonomous chiefdoms. Kayunga (Bunyala) is onesuch chiefdoms. The Kabaka was reportedly not allowed to tour Kayunga because a section of the Banyala in that area were opposed to his visit. Government appears to have taken sides with the Banyala and created a kingdom for them but Buganda does not recognise it.

This was followed by a stern warning to media houses which government claimed peddled violence-inciting messages to the masses. Five fm radio stations were switched off air which included Buganda kingdom's CBS radio. Some journalists were briefly detained for covering the event while others have since lost their jobs or been suspended from hosting radio and TV talk shows.
Additionally, the Broadcasting Council banned the outside studio broadcasting debate (people's parliament) and radio stations have been beaten into airing content that only pleases government. Before the riots editors of a Kampala weekly newsmagazine, The Independent had been summoned to police and later charged with publishing a seditious cartoon that depicted Mr Museveni as laying strategy for 2011 election campaigns.

There were voices that monarchies be banned in the country. And the bill aiming at restraining the cultural institutions participation in politics is in the offing and soon will be debated in parliament.

In the end two MPs were arreseted and other Buganda kingdom officials have been issued with criminal summons for allegedly inciting the people against the government.

But before the riots a letter President Museveni had supposedly written leaked to the media. The contents of the letter which suggested that key political positions in Bunyoro kingdom be ringfenced for the indigenous Banyoro sparked condemnation and uproar all over the country with analysts claiming it would undermine the right for people to contest for any political office and furher divide the country.

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