A spokesman for Uganda’s government says President Yoweri Museveni’s administration will continue with investigations into a security breach despite, criticisms that it is contravening the constitution.
“That is not true that the government is stifling freedom of the press or freedom of the people of Uganda,” said government spokesman Fred Opolot. “The police and the government [are] ensuring that whatever it does [has] to be lawful. And again when an issue compromises national security, it has to be investigated.”
Opolot says the country’s security was compromised when the Daily Monitor, an independent newspaper, published a letter written by an army general asking for an investigation into Mr. Museveni’s alleged succession plan. The government denies there is a succession plan.
General David Sejusa, coordinator for Uganda’s intelligence agencies, wrote to the government seeking an investigation into rumors of a plot to assassinate senior government officials opposed to the succession plan. Sejusa denies leaking the letter to the newspaper, which led to the government’s investigation.
Museveni’s alleged plan is to step down and hand over power to his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Security officials raided the offices of the newspaper and shut down two radio stations located in the same compound as part of the investigation.
Opolot said the newspaper has refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
“It is alleged by the police [the letter] was doctored by some of the media houses and that prompted an investigation of which the police applied section 27 2A of the Police Act that allows them to summon witnesses,” said Opolot. “The search has been going on and it will continue tomorrow, and what you are seeing here is the police expediting the due process of the law.”
Opolot says Ugandans are aware that the administration has a mandate to address national security issues to ensure the country’s stability and peace.
“They will understand that yes the national security has been compromised and whatever it takes, the government would have to ensure that peace and security is maintained, but through the lawful process and that is what it is doing right now,” said Opolot.
But, opposition groups condemned the closure of the newspaper and the radio stations and accused the government of using state institutions to intimidate and harass opponents as part of a plan to silence dissent.
Olara Otunnu, opposition leader of the Uganda People’s Congress, says the government is undermining the constitution.
“This is Museveni being Museveni. He has no regard for the rule of law, no regard for the constitution and various institutions of governance…all these are being subordinated to his whims,” said Otunnu.