Uganda’s People Defence Forces (UPDF) has publicly apologized for the brutality its soldiers unleashed on journalists on Wednesday.
David Muhoozi, the Chief of Defence Forces, while addressing the media in Kampala on Thursday, also undertook to treat journalists who sustained injuries during the unprovoked attack that has since been highly publicized.
“The incident that happened yesterday (Wednesday) is regrettable and I extend my apologies to those friends of ours who were assaulted,” he said.
Besides describing journalists as ‘friends’ of the army, Muhoozi also denied claims it was a ‘tactic’ to brutally attack journalists and apologize later. Journalists have come under consistent attack from both the army and police in the last few months, a period that coincided with the general elections held on January 14.
“It is not a tactic. We will take action against the culprits. It is not our desire to assault and apologize. We will offer a package of remorse including catering for what the errant people have done. The injured will get a package for treatment.”
The confession and apology come a day after seven journalists were injured, some of them seriously following an assault by the army.
The seven include NTV Uganda’s Cliff Wamala who needed stitches at the back of his head to repair a wound caused by the assault. Others are Daily Monitor’s Irene Abalo, Timothy Murungi, and Henry Sekanjako who both are incidentally attached to the government-owned New Vision newspaper, plus Josephine Namakumbi and Joseph Sabiti of NBS TV.
The journalists got into trouble with the authorities for attempting to cover a procession by opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine who was delivering a petition at the United Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Kampala.
The UNHCR has, in a statement, condemned the incident.