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Police continue siege as Red Pepper returns to market

Red Pepper directors and editors stand in the dock during a past hearing of their case. File photo.

BY RAYMOND MAYANJA & Christopher Tusiime

Despite a presidential directive ordering security personel to vacate the Red Pepper Publication premises at Namanve, police guards are still manning it.

On a visit to the newspaper offices at midday on Monday, the PML Daily reporter was blocked from accessing the compound by police officers who said they were under instruction not to allow any body to enter.

Asked why yet the President ordered that the premises be reopened, the policemen said they are still waiting for the written directive from their bosses.

“We have not received any written directive. But as soon as we get it, we shall vacate,” one of the officers said.

Directors speak out

Mr Arinaitwe Rugyendo, one of the Red Pepper directors, confirmed the presence of security guards at their business.

“The IGP has to issue the directive, to order the policemen to vacate. However, the presidential directive is very clear. He told us to resume business,” Mr Rugyendo explained, adding that Gen Kayihura had asked them on Sunday to wait.

Rugyendo, together with other four newspaper directors including Richard Tusiime, , James Mujuni, Johnson Musinguzi and Patrick Mugumya and three of its top editors jailed after it published a story alleging that President Museveni was training Rwanda rebels to topple the government of President Kagame. They were granted bail on December 19, 2017.

Resuming business

Today, one Anita, a newspaper vendor at Shell Kireka told PML Daily that she sold a good number of copies of the paper.

“I was shocked by a big number of people, who bought the paper. By 9 am, I sold all the copies I had,” she said.

Rugyendo also confirmed that the public has been very supportive to them.

“There is high demand for the newspaper but we don’t have the machines to print. To reprint more, we are likely to go to Nasser Road,” he revealed.

A reader, whom PML Daily found reading the RedPepper, however, expressed disappointment in the way the paper has changed its reporting style.

Red Pepper is back on the streets but police continues to maintain siege at the premises. File photo.

Loses

The company is still counting losses incurred during the siege.

A part from Red pepper newspaper, the local company produces Kamunye, Entatsi, local radio station, Juice Fm and online publication.

Rugyendo explained that they have made a huge loss in terms of human resources, revenue and readership.

But after meeting the newspaper’s directors at State House in Entebbe, President Museveni reportedly warned them against reckless reporting in future.

John Baptist Imokola, a lecturer at the Makerere department of Journalism and Communication and also a news manager, NBS Television told PML Daily that Red Pepper needs to tread carefully after the three-month closure. He says this is because they have already incurred serious loses and can’t risk aggravating the issue by continuing with similar stories that landed the paper into trouble.

“But with time they will go back to real journalism because as a media house, you can’t survive on doing public relations work. So, they will go back to what they used to do so as to earn money,” Imokola said.

the paper went back on the streets on Monday in an issue dubbed resurrection issue.

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