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Uganda bans TV, radio coverage in parliament after brawl

KAMPALA – The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has banned TV and radio stations from relaying live parliamentary proceedings following broadcasts of MPs brawling over a proposed bill on presidential age limits, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported on Thursday.

“The commission hereby directs all broadcasters to immediately stop and refrain from broadcasting live feeds which are in breach of the minimum broadcasting standards and the best practice guidelines for electronic media coverage/ reporting and broadcasting of live events,” said UCC head Godfrey Mutabazi.

For two days in a row several Ugandan MPs threw punches and chairs in parliament over the impending scrapping of Article 102 (b) from Uganda’s constitution that bars people who are above 75 years from contesting for the presidency.

Live footage showed several opposition members of parliament being physically manhandled and dragged out of the building by plainclothes security officers.

The leader of the opposition led a walk out with her members in tow after complaining that special forces had been used to evict opposition members.

Many see the motion, which passed on Wednesday, as an attempt to allow President Yoweri Museveni, who is 73 and who has been in power for 31 years, to stand again in the 2021 elections.

In the days preceding the passing of the motion, stormy debates erupted between MPs supporting the bill and those opposing it, leading to the house speaker having to postpone the debate after failing to impose order.

All of the violence and disruption was relayed live until the UCC ordered all broadcasters to stop live feeds, insisting they were “inciting the public, discriminating, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence amongst the viewers and were likely to create public insecurity or violence”.

The parliamentary violence followed street clashes last week between Ugandan security forces – which were placed on high alert and deployed outside parliament and in Kampala city centre – and opposition activists and university students, leading to several arrests.

Ugandan police also raided several NGOs in the capital and confiscated equipment after they were accused by Kampala of supporting protests – leading to a war of words between the US Embassy and a presidential spokesman.

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