Senegal: CPJ urges Uganda to allow radio station resume broadcasts

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Ugandan authorities to immediately allow the privately-owned radio station, Endigyito FM, to resume broadcasts.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Friday, CPJ said Ugandan regulators forced the radio station off the air ahead of the February 18 Presidential elections.

According to CPJ, Endigyito FM ceased broadcasting after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) revoked the station's license and confiscated its broadcasting equipment on January 20, one day after the station aired an interview with opposition presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi.

"It is absolutely vital that Ugandan citizens can get information from a range of sources, particularly ahead of elections," remarked CPJ's Africa Program Coordinator, Sue Valentine.

"We call on authorities to renew Endigyito FM's license and return its equipment as soon as possible so the station can resume broadcasts."

The statement pointed out that UCC Director, Godfrey Mutabaazi, initially told reporters that the station's license was suspended because it owed 38 million Ugandan shillings about (US$11,000) in licensing fees.

The station's owner, Nulu Byamukama, was said to have disclosed that he had paid the outstanding fees in full following the suspension of the station's licence.

On January 28, Mutabaazi told CPJ that the station could not simply resume broadcasting after it paid its fees, that it must apply for a new license.

''An Endigyito FM employee, speaking anonymously so as not to jeopardize negotiations, told CPJ that regulators had given the station a series of reasons as to why they could not resume broadcasts, including that the vehicle needed to return the station's broadcasting equipment was being used for a mission in neighboring South Sudan,'' the statement noted.

The press freedom body said it had documented several cases of Ugandan journalists being harassed this month with the police on January 8 releasing two newspaper editors they had held for 24 hours without allowing them contact with the outside world.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 29Jan2016            

29 january 2016 13:29:08

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