President Yoweri Museveni has pardoned the Red Pepper Directors and Senior Editors and ordered the Police to immediately leave the premises of the company, a move that will allow the media house to resume work. The Media House said in short statements posted on their twitter feed.
Museveni reportedly reached an amicable solution to the two-months stand-off during a meeting with the Directors of the media house at State House in Entebbe on Tuesday January 23, 2018.
The publication posted on its Twitter feed that: “After a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni at State House Entebbe, Tuesday night, His Excellency pardoned the Company Directors & its Senior Editors & promised to immediately order the police to vacate Pepper HQ at Namanve.”
The newspaper’s offices located in Namanve were sealed off as a scene of crime on November 21, 2017 by police following publication of a story the Police said disturbed the peace of the President.
All the directors and some of the publications editors were charged with charged with disturbing the peace of President Yoweri Museveni, offensive communication against Generals Salim Saleh and Henry Tumukunde. The charges arose from a story the paper published under the title; “M7 Plotting Kagme Overthrow – Rwanda.”
Museveni’s gesture of goodwill has not entirely been welcomed by all Ugandans, most notably the former President of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) who argues that the President may not have the authority to drop charges.
Besigye posted on his Twitter account that: “RED PEPPER to reopen on Mr M7’s permission &TERMS! They can continue defaming &maligning others, especially, those he doesn’t like! CRIME is committed against State; shouldn’t be pardoned without due process.”
However, renowned Kampala lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi notes that if the aggrieved party – in this case President Museveni, withdraws interest in a case, there is no point for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to continue to pursue the case.
“Although the DPP is supposed to be independent. In this case it is purely the executive that is complaining. I think the DPP should not go ahead to sanction the case,” said Rwakafuzi.