Ugandan websites blocked in Rwanda as 'war' sucks in media houses

Museveni and Kagame

Museveni and Kagame

The soured diplomatic relations between Uganda and Rwanda have now sucked in media houses - with each country blocking what they regard as the other regime's 'propagandist' media houses.

Yesterday, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) ordered Ugandan internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to Rwanda’s New Times website (https://www.newtimes.co.rw).

It is not yet immediately clear if the blocking of access to Ugandan news sites such as The Observer (www.observer.ug), NilePost (www.nilepost.ug), Softpower (www.softpower.ug) and New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug), Daily Monitor (www.monitor.co.ug), The Independent (www.independent.co.ug) by Rwandan authorities was in retaliation to UCC's move. The blocked websites can only be accessed via virtual private networks (VPN). Uganda has blocked access to at least 6 Rwandan websites. 

There has been no official communication from Rwanda but President Kagame's communications director, Yolanda Makolo in a reply to a tweet about the blockages said; "You of all people should know the difference between cause & effect/consequence. We don't get slapped and offer the other cheek. No apologies."

UCC says the order was because the Rwandan paper has continued to publish 'harmful propaganda' against Uganda. UCC spokesperson, Ibrahim Bbosa, said UCC had directed “internet service providers to block New Times for publishing harmful propaganda that endangers the national security of Uganda”.

Adding that, “We are engaging the regulator in Rwanda and hope this will be temporary,” Bbosa said. Currently, an attempt to visit the newspaper’s website from Uganda returns an error. 

The blockage of websites comes just a day when Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda signed a peace pact in Angola on Wednesday, signalling an end to the bitter diplomatic relations between Kampala and Kigali that had resulted into the closure of Gatuna border.

Despite the signing, the New Times newspaper, which is Rwanda government’s mouthpiece, continued to publish propagandist articles blaming the Kampala regime for the impasse. 

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd