Journalist charged over claim

February 3, 2010 12:00 am

, KAMPALA, Feb 3 – A Ugandan journalist was arrested and charged with libel on Wednesday for comparing the country\\\\\\\’s government to that of the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, his lawyer said.

Angelo Izama, a political writer with the independent Daily Monitor newspaper and co-chair of a public policy think tank, penned the offending piece on December 20.

"This piece was written as commentary. It was a hypothetical analysis," the paper\\\\\\\’s lawyer, Anne Abeja-Muhwezi, told AFP.

"This is part of the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections of next year. Government is trying to muzzle certain critical journalists," she said.

On the same day, Izama authored a front page story that claimed Uganda\\\\\\\’s government was training a para-military squad to serve the ruling party\\\\\\\’s interests in the upcoming election.

Authorities have also protested over the article, the Daily Monitor\\\\\\\’s managing editor Daniel Kalinaki told AFP.

"There was a complaint from very high levels of government that the story would scare away investors," Kalinaki said.

Izama was questioned in relation to the para-military training story on several occasions, but the court charge only mentions the Marcos commentary.

"Are we trying to stoke political violence? Absolutely not. But should we keep quiet? We believe there should a public dialogue in this country about the need to avoid political violence," Abeja-Muhwezi said.

The lawyer said that several other Daily Monitor journalists are currently facing criminal charges.

Two reporters from the paper have also taken the government to court in an effort to compel it to release details of oil contracts negotiated with British and Canadian firms.


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