UGANDA: No access to radio for opposition candidate

The opposition coalition is accusing the government of deliberately denying their presidential candidate access to radio stations in parts of the country.

In a statement issued by the Inter-Party Cooperation, presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has been blocked from local radio stations, one of the most popular medium of communication in rural Uganda.

“This is a deliberate effort to deny Dr Besigye opportunities to address issues that affect the general public. Radio stations should be compelled by the regulator to offer fair coverage to all candidates vying for public office,” the statement issued yesterday, said.

The statement notes that radio plays a fundamental role in informing and educating the public about the issues that affect them. “Majority of Ugandans live in rural areas where radio is the only source of information. Denying them information … takes away their fundamental rights of freedom to make their own choices … Ugandans needs all the information about presidential candidates so that they make an informed decision come 2011,” the statement reads in part.

This comes less than 24 hours after Dr Besigye’s talk-show on Kagadi-Kibaale Community Radio (KKCR) ended prematurely when the station was switched off 20 minutes into the programme.

It also comes three days after six radio stations in Bunyoro denied Dr Besigye access to their airwaves, citing fear of retribution from the State. These stations include Bunyoro Broadcasting Services, King’s Broadcasting Services, Kitara FM, Spice FM, Radio Hoima and Liberty Broadcasting Services.

The Electoral Commission yesterday condemned the Kagadi incident with deputy spokesman Paul Bukenya, saying he was surprised that such an incident has again happened.
Mr Bukenya said the EC met officials from the Media Council, the Media Centre and the Broadcasting Council last week and urged them to guarantee access to media to all the candidates.

The spokesperson of Dr Besigye’s campaign, Ms Margaret Wokuri, yesterday said the move to block Dr Besigye from speaking on rural radio stations is done deliberately by the ruling NRM party to derail his presidential campaign.

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