, KAMPALA, May 30 – Uganda’s government ordered police on Thursday to allow journalists back into the two main independent newspapers after a 10-day blockade that has sparked widespread criticism.
Police shut down The Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers on May 20 after they reported arguments among army generals over whether the president’s son is to succeed him.
They had blocked journalists from publishing while they conducted a search for confidential leaked documents which were quoted.
“The police has called off the cordon of the Monitor premises, so that they resume their normal business as police continue with the search,” Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek told reporters, speaking alongside police chief Kale Kayihura.
However, to allow the paper to reopen, Monitor officials have agreed to “tighten their internal editorial” processes, including ensuring stories “that impact especially on national security are subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny and verification process before they run,” Onek added.
Observers have warned the police closures – financially crippling to the papers – would lead to greater self-censorship in the future.
The Monitor has also agreed not to publish stories that could “generate tensions, ethnic hatred, cause insecurity or disturb law and order”, Onek added.
Later on Thursday, Red Pepper said in a statement the paper, “besieged by the Uganda police since last Monday, has finally been re-opened.”
The closures left only one major operating newspaper, the government-owned New Vision.
Two radio stations in the Monitor offices were also allowed to resume operation.
The closures came after the newspapers in early May printed a leaked confidential memo by a senior general, David Sejusa Tinyefuza, alleging that President Yoweri Museveni was grooming his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him.