By Spy Uganda
Kampala: As 2021 general elections pressure intensifies in Uganda, two foreign journalists working with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation(CBC) were deported on Friday last week and will not cover the elections come 2021.
This was confirmed by one of CBC news correspondent Margaret Evans who revealed that the two were detained for ten hours before being deported despite having all the requirements to cover the events surrounding the elections.
“#Ugandan gov’t avoiding outside scrutiny of Jan elections already. We were deported Friday even though we had official media credentials. Here @lily_martin & @JF_BISSON 10 hours into detention before being put on a plane,” Evans tweeted
According to the CBC News European Correspondent Margaret Evans, their journalists, Lily Martin and J.F Bisson were ordered out of Uganda on Friday last week, despite being authorized by the Uganda Media Centre to cover news around the country.
One of the two journalists, Lily Martin stressed that the pair held official press credentials to carry out their trade in the country and their deportations suffocates foreign scrutiny of the upcoming 2021 general elections.
However, in response government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo said Uganda does not need any foreign scrutiny into its internal matters.
“Do we really need you to scrutinize our electoral process to qualify as credible? Uganda reserves the right to admit foreign persons including journalists. Good stay where you are,” Opondo said.
This followed another incident where last month Mr Simon Osborn was picked up from his apartment in Nakasero in Kampala, detained briefly and later bundled onto a plane back to his home country.
Mr Osborn had worked in Uganda for seven years as country director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a United States-based organisation that promotes democracy across the world. NDI is aligned to the US Democratic party.
The EU Head of Delegation to Uganda, Mr Attilio Pacifici, confirmed in a brief statement issued that Mr Osborn had been working for the EU by the time of his arrest and deportation.
However, Mr Jacob Siminyu, the spokesperson of Uganda’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, denied the allegations on Mr Osborn’s case or other reports of deportation.
“I am not aware of any deportations. Secondly, I am on leave, so I am not in a position to comment,” Mr Siminyu said.
Sources within the civil society revealed that a Kenyan national, Mr Isaack Othieno, who had taken over as the acting Head of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a US-based NGO that engages in advancement of democracy, had also been deported under unexplained circumstances.
Mr Othieno was reportedly picked up from Sheraton Kampala Hotel where he had been staying temporarily, bundled onto a police vehicle and driven to Busia border with Kenya.
According to some reports, the government has also barred “unwanted persons” from returning to Uganda, among those whose return has been blocked are Mr Marco Deswart, Ms Roseline Idele and Ms Lara Petrivevic.
Mr Marco Deswart, who heads election programmes at the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), was reportedly barred from returning to Uganda in July after he was reportedly informed of his fate through the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Uganda considered him unwanted in the country.
In the same vein, Ms Roseline Idele, who is the acting Country Director of NDI in Uganda, had reportedly been at the front of supporting programmes to strengthen democratic institutions.
In September, Ms Idele is said to have travelled to Nairobi where she had, until her temporary appointment, worked as a senior programme manager in the NDI Kenya office. The government barred her from returning in October.
Ms Lara Petrivevic, the Director of the International Republican Institute (IRI), an American non-profit organisation aligned to the Republican Party, reportedly left Uganda for Wales to give birth but was later informed that she was not welcome to return.
Sources within civil society said government’s decision to deport or block the return of the aforementioned officials was based on the belief that they had been providing support to presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.