Coverage of Pop Star Spurs Closure Threat for Uganda TV Stations

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(Bloomberg) -- Uganda threatened to shut down some local broadcasters for “alarmist reporting” on a pop star who has emerged as the main challenge to President Yoweri Museveni’s three-decade rule.

Security agencies complained that some live coverage of the April 29 arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi, known by the stage name Bobi Wine, was biased and aimed at inciting the public against the government. Some of the six television stations that were investigated were asked to “show cause” why their licenses shouldn’t be revoked, the Uganda Communications Commission said in a report on its website. The regulator cautioned or asked broadcasters to suspend some programs.

Kyagulanyi, 37, was arrested in the capital, Kampala, in April after an argument with police officers. In separate incidents, he was detained for protesting against a social media law and charged with treason after his supporters allegedly attacked the president’s convoy.

The threat of revoking the broadcasters’ licenses is “usual script for all despots,” the Afrobeats star who was elected as lawmaker in 2017 said on his Twitter account.

Kyagulanyi has emerged as the most popular challenge against Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since January 1986 after he captured power following a five-year guerrilla war. He has accused Museveni for a breakdown in the rule of law and plans to contest in the presidential election scheduled for 2021.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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