By Abraham Kizza
President Yoweri Museveni has pardoned and agreed to allow The Red Pepper and its sister publications resume business.
This comes after two months of closure and police siege on their offices at Namanve. The reopening follows a meeting between President Museveni and the company directors and senior editors at State House Entebbe on Tuesday night.
“After a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni at State House Entebbe, Tuesday night, His Excellency pardoned the Company Directors and its senior editors and promised to immediately order the police to vacate the Pepper head office at Namanve and return all confiscated electronic equipment to the company,” reads in parts a statement from Red Pepper.
The meeting followed both formal and informal protracted negotiations with senior government officials and individuals which commenced when the police stormed the Red Pepper offices on November 21 last year and closed down the publication, sending its five directors and three senior editors to prison for a month.
The closure and subsequent prosecution of the paper's senior officials, followed a publication the previous day of a story purporting that the state said was prejudicial to national security and that of the region.
During the meeting at State House Entebbe, President Museveni warned the directors and editors to stop being reckless and become more professional in the course of their reporting.
“He immediately ordered his staff to give each of the 8 officials copies of a revised edition of his autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed and a booklet containing a lecture he gave during the marking of Nelson Mandela's Day at Makerere University last year, to sharpen their ideological awareness,” the statement reads.
Prosecution alleged that the accused on November 20, at their head office in Mukono with intend to defame President Museveni, his brother Gen. Salim Saleh and security minister Gen. Henry Tumukunde unlawfully and without justification published an article dubbed “M7 plots to overthrow Kagame-Rwanda”.
They include managing director Richard Tusiime, finance director Johnson Musinguzi, director in charge of operations Patrick Mugumya and chief marketing officer Arinatiwe Rugyendo.
Others are Richard Kintu, the deputy news editor, James Mujuni, a journalist, Ben Byarabaha, a senior editor and Francis Tumusiime, the special projects editor.
According to the statement, the Directors and Senior Editors pledged to the President and the nation, a more transformed and professional publication going forward.