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Africa News Wed, 17 Jun 2020

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How radio campaigning may muzzle Uganda's opposition

The banning of campaign rallies by the Uganda electoral commission ahead of general elections in January 2021 could give the ruling party an advantage over the opposition.

This is because radio remains the most accessible form of media in Uganda and most private stations are owned by ruling party politicians.

Although the public broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), has channels covering as many local languages and regions as possible, most FM radio stations are privately owned.

The concern is that ruling party candidates will have an unfair advantage over the opposition, with more access and more airtime.

Opposition politician Kizza Besigye sued the UBC after the 2016 election, for denying him airtime - and a court ruled in his favour.

The national broadcaster is obliged to give equal time to presidential candidates, but this does not happen in practice.

Radio stations in rural areas have in the past been raided by security agents, who have pulled shows off air for hosting members of the opposition.

The rallies have been banned to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Candidates will be free to use online and social platforms to campaign, but not everyone has access to those.

It is not yet known if President Yoweri Museveni, who is serving his fifth term of office, will run for another term.

Source: bbc.com

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