Ugandan Newspaper Accuses Government of Harassment Over Raid

The Daily Monitor, Uganda’s biggest independent daily newspaper by readership, accused the government of harassment after police raided its offices and halted broadcasts by two affiliated radio stations.

The police obtained a court order to search the newspaper’s offices for a letter written by General David Sejusa, coordinator of intelligence services, police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba said by phone today from the capital, Kampala. The document refers to an alleged plot to assassinate government officials opposed to plans for President Yoweri Museveni’s son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kaneirugaba, to succeed his father, she said.

“We don’t have what they are looking for,” Don Wanyama, the Daily Monitor’s managing editor, said by phone from Kampala. “We published the information. This is media harassment.”

Museveni, 69, has ruled Uganda since 1986 when a five-year bush war ended. He has won all four elections held since 1996, though the last vote in 2011 was criticized by international observers and rejected by opposition parties who said it was marred by voter intimidation and fraud.

The East African nation is the continent’s biggest coffee exporter and is set to become an oil producer after Tullow Oil Plc found crude deposits in 2006. The government estimates its oil reserves at 3.5 billion barrels.

The government has denied there is a succession plan involving the president’s son, and accuses Sejusa, who left the country after the letter was published, of trying to build his own political support base. Bloomberg News was unable to find contact information for Sejusa to seek comment.

Switched Off

KFM and Dembe FM radio stations, which like the Daily Monitor are owned by Nairobi-based Nation Media Group, the region’s biggest media company, were switched off air, Wanyama said.

Umeme Ltd., the country’s power distributor, sent officials to the Daily Monitor’s offices to disconnect its electricity, the newspaper said on its Twitter page. Umeme spokesman Henry Rugamba’s phone was switched off when Bloomberg News called him seeking comment.

Police last week interrogated three journalists from the newspaper, including Wanyama, over a May 7 article that cited Sejusa, according to the Daily Monitor.