LIRA. Several radio stations in Lira District in northern Uganda have refused to host leaders of the of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) citing threats from security officials.
Mr JB Okello Okello, the chairperson of Lango Radio Owners Association, said station managers have been warned by the authorities not to host FDC party leaders on various talk shows.
“They [authorities] did not make any formal communication to the radio stations but there have been a lot of threats from the security that no radio station should host Dr Besigye,” Mr Okello said on Sunday.
FDC president, Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat, and other leaders including Dr Kizza Besigye, the former party leader, were on Saturday in Lango region to speak to district and sub-county leaders from nine districts of the region.
Mr Amuriat said: “We had hoped to speak to the public through radios and then later have a public rally at Lira Mayor’s Gardens. We had a meeting which was successful. The attendance was good and we were able to speak to our leaders,” he said. “We got discouraged by the fact that we were not able to speak to the people of Lango via radio. We went to all the radio stations with the hope that we could pay for airtime and speak to the people.”
However, Mr Amuriat said all the radio stations declined to host them citing intimidation by Lira District Commissioner Mr Milton Odongo and other police commanders in the district.
He said their planned public rally was also stopped by security officials.
“This violates the right of Ugandans to access to information. I can surely say it is a deprivation of income to the radio stations that pay taxes and have to maintain their equipment and pay staff members,” he said.
Mr Odongo, however, denied issuing threats to managers of the radio stations.
“If there is any claim that I threatened them let them come out. I did not threaten any radio with closure,” he said on Sunday.
North Kyoga Regional Police Spokesperson, Mr David Ongom Mudong, said police had no idea of stopping Dr Besigye and FDC leaders from holding talk shows.
FDC leaders said it is not the first time they are experiencing disruption of their planned activities.
“Only that this time the money was not even received by the radio stations. In other regions, we have been attacked and radio stations switched off in the middle of the shows,” Mr Amuriat said.
“It has happened in Jinja, Kitgum, Mubende. People were picked during a talk show and locked up at the police. This is not going to be allowed to happen, we are going to protest this.”
Last week, Uganda's Supreme Court paved the way President Yoweri Museveni, 74, to seek a sixth term in office, upholding a ruling to scrap presidential age limits.
Mr Museveni -- who has ruled Uganda since seizing power as the head of a rebel army in 1986 -- will seek re-election in polls due in 2021.