UPDF Spokesperson Flavia Byekwaso described the initiative as the beginning of a new era. She said more and more activities will be held in, which the two sides will be discussing issues that divide them.
After their friendly football matches with the media
fraternity, Uganda Peoples Forces has promised a new era of working
relationship between the two sides. The two matches; one involving senior
army officers and media managers/owners and another between junior officers and
journalists were held at Philip Omondi Stadium in Kampala on Friday evening
under the initiative of UPDF.
The Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), General David Muhoozi led
the UPDF team while Kin Karisa, the Chairperson of the National Association of
Broadcasters (NAB) captained the media managers. UPDF Spokesperson Flavia Byekwaso described the initiative
as the beginning of a new era.
She said more and more activities will be held
in, which the two sides will be discussing issues that divide them.
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Asked why cynical journalists should take the initiative seriously, Byekwaso
said that bringing senior army officers to participate in the activities is a
demonstration of their highest level of commitment.
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The initiative is an attempt to mend ties between media and
security forces following the heating general elections in which, soldiers made
headlines for assaulting journalists covering campaigns and post campaign
The worst incident occurred in February when Military Police
officers battered journalists who had gone to cover the former National Unity
Platform (NUP) presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi
Wine as he was delivering his petition on gross human rights violations to the
office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights in Kololo.
Military police officers descended on journalists who were
waiting for Bobi Wine outside the commission office in Kololo and battered them
indiscriminately. Some of the victims of the military brutality are New
Vision's Henry Ssekanjakko and Timothy Murungi, NTV's Cliff Wamala, Daily
Monitor's Irene Abalo Otto, Shamim Nabakooza of Record TV, and Galaxy FM’s
Nalule Amina. Other victims are NBS TV’s Josephine Namakumbi, Joseph Sabiti and
Since journalists and the army are in “each other’s face
every day,” CDF Muhoozi , said there is a need for a friendlier relationship
between the two groups.
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The Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda (HRNJ-U),
Executive Director Robert Sempala said the initiative is welcome. Dialogue is
the way to go, he said. If the bromance fails to work, he said they will part
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But a number of journalists remain pessimistic if this initiative will lead to
an end of the human rights abuses by soldiers. Ahead of the match, Uganda Journalist
Association President, Mathias Rukundo released a statement, saying that the
event was an attempt by the UPDF to dupe the media that human rights abuses
“Security agencies have been ranked top violators of rights by many press index
reports urging that for the forces to invite journalists allegedly for football
and dinner, instead of resolving serious issues is a hoodwink and an attempt to
divert us from discussion of grave human rights violations against journalists,”
the statement said.