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Ugandan media thought of the day

More belated conference blogging, but Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch offered up an interesting observation about the Ugandan media at a recent OSI event on Museveni’s increasingly undemocratic rule.  As she noted, the degree of press freedom allowed to English-language media is often favorably commented upon – but newspapers and radio broadcasts in local languages are significantly more constrained, and this has largely escaped scrutiny by the international community.  This is really a clever way of controlling information flow to ordinary citizens whilst still maintaining the appearance of openness.  I’d be interested to hear any thoughts readers might have on this observation.

I took this photo in Kampala in early 2009 precisely because I was struck by the diversity of Uganda’s print journalism in comparison to Rwanda’s tightly controlled media.  It’s a shame to hear that this openness isn’t as thoroughgoing as it appeared.

30-second impression of Etienne Tshisekedi

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I was only able to attend a few minutes of DRC presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi’s recent speech at CSIS (as it started late and I had to leave for an evening class), but came away impressed with his analysis of the political situation in the DRC, which seemed articulate and astute.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the speech, to be honest; even given the political imperative to sound optimistic about one’s own candidacy, the level of certainty he displayed about his chances in this recent interview with Colette Braeckman left me wondering a bit about how accurate his understanding of the overall political context was, but he offered a clear picture of the challenges the country is facing.  Please do share your impressions if you attended or were able to watch the whole thing.  If you’d like to learn more about his campaign, I’d suggest checking out the coverage at AllAfrica, Jeune Afrique, or Radio Okapi.

(Note as of 28 July: This post has been edited to remove a comment on Tshisekedi’s age [he’s 78] which many commentators found offensive.  I don’t think it’s illegitimate to discuss a candidate’s age and health as well as his political stances, but many readers seem to have interpreted that comment as a suggestion that age is the primary axis along which a candidate should be judged, which wasn’t what I meant to say.  Apologies to those I offended.)

(Note as of 16 August: Comments on this post are now closed, as it’s received a healthy variety of responses.  Thanks to everyone who wrote in – I’d welcome your comments on other posts as well!)