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After Disputed Uganda Election, Journalists Fear Prolonged Crackdown

By Murithi Mutiga/CPJ East Africa Correspondent

Twenty nine-year-old photographer Abubaker Lubowa was excited when he was assigned to cover the campaign of opposition leader Kizza Besigye. He told CPJ he did not anticipate that the assignment would mean he would make the news almost as often as he covered it.

On February 27, Lubowa and a colleague at the privately owned Daily Monitor newspaper were arrested at the opposition leader's private residence in the Ugandan capital, where Besigye has been confined since widely disputed election results were announced on February 20, extendingthe 30-year rule of President Yoweri Museveni.

On February 22 at the same location, Lubowa and another photographer, Isaac Kasamani of the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), had been attacked by a man wielding a pepper spray can in the company of uniformed police. Kasamani was extensively covered in stinging spray but Lubowa managed to escape-just as he did on November 16 when another colleague, Isaac Kugonza, suffereda cracked skull in clashes between protesters and police.

Uganda has long had one of the most vibrant media environments in the Horn of Africa, but CPJ has documented an extendedseries of attacks on journalists coveringthe political opposition , particularly duringelections . (During the most recent campaign, radio stations were closed and journalistswere beaten or arrested-including one radio host who was pulledoff the air mid-broadcast and detained alongside seven politicians he was interviewing.)

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