Media council had threatened online version of Umuvugizi
In what appears like state sabotage, the website of the suspended local tabloid Umuvugizi newspaper is now not accessible on MTN, Rwandatel network, after a month of publishing very critical articles about President Paul Kagame and the First lady.
Umuvugizi, whose publisher Jean Bosco Gasasira now lives in
Gasasira launched the website saying the paper will appear on the website in PDF format. On the website, www.umuvugizi.com, he wrote that other stories will be published on events in
Days later, the Media Council which had slapped a six-month suspension on Umuvugizi and Umuseso said publishing the paper online was another crime.
The Council’s Executive Secretary Patrice Mulama announced on the BBC Kinyarwanda service that if Umuvugizi chose to publish online, it could be “blocked” there. He did not give details as to how that could be done, only saying it was “feasible.”
ET has tried to access the website using the two internet providers but failed yet a few days back it was accessible with articles citing Kagame as one of the richest personalities in
However, the site can be opened on the TiGO network, which joined the phone and data business last November.
MTN Rwanda did not explain the lack of access. “We have nothing to do with that site since we do not host it,” said Jean Bosco Sendahangarwa, the MTN Rwanda media officer. He did not give any more details.
This is the first time a website has been blocked in
Available statistics suggest MTN Rwanda and Rwandatel together carry up to 90 percent of Internet traffic in the country.
According to Mulama of the Media High Council, Umuvugizi’s going online would give the Council more evidence to convince the courts to ban the papers permanently.
MTN Rwanda is owned by the South Africa-based MTN Group, which has a 55 per cent stake in the company. Rwanda-based Tristar Investments SARL, an investment arm of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front holds 35 per cent, and the remaining 10 per cent is held by other shareholders who are also said to be RPF cadres.
Before 2008, Rwandatel was wholly owned by the government and local companies. But 80 per cent of the struggling company was bought by the Libyan government’s Lap Green, which also owned Uganda Telecom. The rest stayed with Caisse Sociale du Rwanda (CSR), the national social security agency, a state body.
TiGO belongs to Luxemburg-based Millicom International. It operates under the same TiGO brand in