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Uganda parliament backtracks on media purge

March 13, 2015

Politicians in Uganda have backtracked on moves to bar veteran reporters from covering the east African nation’s parliament following angry complaints by rights activists and media groups, officials said Friday.

A parliamentary official had informed news media organisations that journalists who have worked in the assembly for more than five years would have to be replaced, arguing the decision was “in the interests of balanced media coverage”.

Journalists alleged the directive was prompted by negative reporting on issues such as bribery, inefficiency, absenteeism and wasteful expenditure – including controversial moves by deputies to vote themselves a significant pay rise.

But deputy parliament speaker Jacob Oulanyah insisted there had been a misunderstanding.

“I want to clarify that we have not taken any decision that was communicated in that letter,” he was quoted as saying by the pro-government New Vision newspaper.

“The letter should be taken as just a letter, and not a command. I urge members of the press to treat it as such.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.