Parliament Withdraws Office Space from Journalists Top story

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In short
The withdrawal was announced in a letter from Chris Obore, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs to the Sergeant-at-Arms Ahmed Kagoye. The letter dated January 18th, 2016, directs the Sergeant-at-Arms to close the offices of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association UPPA with immediate effect.

Parliament has withdrawn office space from the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, a move that threatens the relationship between journalists and the Parliamentary Commission.

The withdrawal was announced in a letter from Chris Obore, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs to the Sergeant-at-Arms Ahmed Kagoye. The letter dated January 18th, 2016 directs the Sergeant-at-Arms, to close the offices of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) with immediate effect.

"We are in the process of accrediting reporters to cover the 10th Parliament. We wrote to the editors to second journalists with degrees. However, some journalists have taken issue with our requirement for a degree and have gone to court," the letter reads.

Obore adds that he held a verbal consultation with the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and agreed to temporarily withdraw the office space, located in the East Wing of parliament until a good working relationship between Parliament and UPPA is restored.

The Sergent-at-Arms has advised members of UPPA to remove their personal effects from the office before the directive is enforced.

The directive comes three days after High Court issued an interim order halting a directive barring reporters without degrees from covering Parliament.

The Deputy Clerk to Parliament Okello Obabaru had on January 11, written to News Editors, asking them to nominate graduates, with three years' experience, to cover parliament. Hearing of the main case challenging the directive is set for January 28th, 2016.

This is the second time that UPPA is booted out of parliament. The first time in June 2006, the then Clerk to Parliament, Aenes Tandekwire, advised journalists to find office space outside parliament due to increased number of parliamentarians under the multi-party system that caused space constraints in the 8th parliament.

The office was then taken over by staff of the Hansard.

Following a series of engagements, the association was granted an alternate office from where they have been operating over the last 10 years.

The office for Uganda Parliamentary Press Association was first provided during the seventh parliament when the then Speaker of Parliament Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, in consultation with the Parliamentary Commission granted a request from journalists under the umbrella body to have an office to ease their work.

Equipped with computers, internet, furniture and a link for streaming plenary proceedings, the office was a one stop center for journalists who used it to file stories direct to their media houses without the hustle of returning to their offices.

 

About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.