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Uganda FM station silenced after Garang discussion

8/12/2005 6:27am

NAIROBI, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Uganda’s government suspended the broadcasting licence of a popular FM radio station on Thursday after it aired a programme discussing theories about the death of Sudan’s vice president John Garang.

On Wednesday, President Yoweri Museveni lashed out at local newspapers he said were "vultures" interfering in security issues with speculation about the July 30 crash of his presidential helicopter that killed the former rebel.

"The broadcasting council has suspended KFM radio’s broadcasting licence with immediate effect," Information Minister Nsaba Buturo told Reuters by telephone.

"The reason is a programme they broadcast yesterday evening that did not meet the minimum broadcasting standards as they are enshrined in our laws. The radio is currently off the air."

He said the show — "Andrew Mwenda Live" — had been discussing the death of Garang but he did not specify which part of the show had offended the authorities.

Speculation and conspiracy theories, ranging from sabotage to hijackers, have raged in the Ugandan media since the death of Garang, three weeks after he was sworn in as vice president.

Mwenda, who also writes for Uganda’s independent Daily Monitor newspaper, was the only individual singled out for criticism by Museveni on Wednesday.

The Daily Monitor and KFM are owned by the Nation Media Group.

"I have been seeing this young boy Mwenda writing about Rwanda, writing about Sudan, writing about UPDF (Uganda’s army)," Museveni told a mourning ceremony for the Ugandan helicopter crew who also died in the crash.

"He must stop completely," Museveni said.

Besides the Monitor, Museveni also slammed the weekly Observer and Red Pepper newspapers, but did not mention KFM.

Buturo gave no time limit for the station’s suspension, saying it would depend on the broadcasting council’s investigation.

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