Ugandan journalists arrested over president cartoon
KAMPALA (Reuters) - Two Ugandan journalists have been arrested over a cartoon of President Yoweri Museveni on the cover of their magazine which referred to his 24 years in power and asked "Where next?", their lawyer said on Wednesday.
Samuel Ssejaaka, owner of Summit Business Review, and its editor, Mustapha Mugisha, were arrested on Tuesday and questioned by detectives before being released on police bond, pending possible unspecified charges.
"I am at a loss as to what the charges would be because I'm aware of what criminal charges can usually be applied to the media," lawyer James Nangwala told Reuters.
"The cartoon looked very plain and very innocent."
Police were not immediately available for comment.
The cartoon depicted Museveni holding a large knife and about to cut a cake on which was written: "48th Independence," referring to the anniversary of the East African nation winning independence from Britain.
The accompanying headline read: "Uganda at 48. Museveni at 24. Where next?"
Ugandans vote on February 18 in national elections that will be closely watched for signs of repression and instability by Western donors and foreign investors.
Uganda's constitutional court removed the crime of sedition from the penal code in August, ruling that it limited fundamental freedoms of speech and expression.
That colonial era law had been used to try several prominent critics of Museveni for bringing the presidency into disrepute.
Nangwala said banner advertisements for the magazine around capital Kampala, featuring the same image, had also been cited to him as a reason why the two men had been arrested.
"A police officer unwrapped a banner advertisement and showed it to all of us as justification for them being in custody," Nangwala said. The advertisements have now disappeared from downtown Kampala.
Museveni, a former student activist, has been in power since 1986, during which time Uganda's economy -- the third largest in east Africa -- has expanded and the discovery of oil has boosted foreign investor interest.
But rights activists say the former darling of the West is now trying to silence critics and clampdown on opposition in an attempt to become president for life.
The country's last elections in 2006 were marred by violence.
Most analysts expect Museveni to be returned to office. The government says that is because of his development achievements while the opposition says it does not expect a fair poll and will pull out if it suspects vote rigging.
(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- UPDATE 8-Dallas Ebola patient vomited outside apartment on way to hospital
- Boxer Sarita Devi faces action after refusing medal at Asian Games
- Appointment of Arvind Subramanian as chief economic adviser hits Modi hurdle
- Putin says Russia wants to move to national currencies in trade
- China tells foreign countries not to meddle in Hong Kong
The United States is days away from settling the critical question of how hospitals should handle and dispose of medical waste from Ebola patients, a government official said on Wednesday. Full Article
North Korea, already under UN sanctions, prepares launch site for longer-range rockets - report. Full Article
Massacre in Syrian Kurdish town would end PKK's peace talks with Turkey - Ocalan. Full Article
Israel's Netanyahu to Obama: Don't allow Iran deal that leaves it at nuclear threshold. Full Article