UGANDA'S Radio One talk show host Robert Kalundi Serumaga has beenÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â released on bail after being charged with sedition in a court in Kampala, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
Serumaga, who spent four days in police custody, was accused by the state of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œattacking the person of the president during a television show on September 11ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â. He was represented by lawyer David Mpanga.
Kalundi was whisked away by security men as he stepped out of the WBS television studio, where he had appeared as one of the discussants on the Kibazo show on Friday. The talk show has since been suspended by the media council, just like other phone-ins and talk shows.
He was beaten up before being bundled into a car boot and rushed to an unknown destination. In the courts, he appeared before magistrate John Wekesa where he was charged ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œwith intention to bring hatred, contempt and disaffection against the person of the presidentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
He was granted cash bail of Uganda Shillings 500,000 (about US$250) cash with journalists Godfrey Ssebagala Wokulira and Richard Mugisha standing as his sureties.
The arrest and indictment of Serumaga came during a week of unrest and media rights violations in Kampala, which culminated in the switching off of four radio stations, suspension of talk shows and phone-in programmes and warning and threatening of a host of radio presenters in a number of local radios.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAll these amount to harassment and intimidation of the media and journalists in Uganda by a regime that cannot accommodate free speech. We urge our journalist colleagues to soldier on and stand firm in defence of media freedom,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â the East African Journalists Association said in reaction to the charge.