NOVEMBER 15, 2005
POSTED: December 2, 2005
The government has threatened to close Uganda’s leading independent daily The Monitor over a story about President Yoweri Museveni’s first choice for army chief. Conrad Nkutu, managing director of The Monitor, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the authorities demanded that the paper retract the story and apologize.
Nkutu said that the authorities had also put pressure on the paper through informal channels to fire reporter Andrew Mwenda, who wrote the article which ran on November 13. “We haven’t been closed down but there’s a threat to close us down,” Nkutu said. He said the paper would not comply with the request to fire Mwenda, a political affairs specialist who already faces criminal charges for a talk show program that led to the closure of Monitor group radio station KFM for a week in August.
Mwenda wrote that President Museveni had first offered the job of defense forces chief to his younger brother Salim Saleh, who declined the offer. The president then chose another candidate. In a statement the government said that the story was “false and an attempt to malign the president.”
Nkutu said that Information Minister James Nsaba Buturo had written to The Monitor on November 13 demanding a retraction and apology otherwise the government would take “other measures.” The Monitor published the government statement in full the next day but the authorities did not appear to be satisfied, Nkutu said. He said the paper stood by its story.