Uganda: Museveni scoffs at EU Parliament over proposed sanctions


President Museveni Saturday scoffed at European Union (EU) Parliament which has recommended sanctions against Ugandan individuals and organisations they claim are responsible for human rights violations during the recent general election, which it said wasn't democratic and transparent.


The development is the latest in the fallout between the West and Uganda government that has seen President Museveni and a number of his senior officials castigating unnamed Western powers over what they call interference in the affairs of Uganda.


However, in a televised address about Uganda's security following several reports of security operatives kidnapping citizens, especially opposition supporters, Mr Museveni, 76, said some foreigners have always been wrong about Uganda and his leadership.


"I want to comment on excitement caused by some foreigners trying to interfere in our affairs. I read in the newspapers about the EU Parliament sanctioning some Ugandans from traveling. For anybody to think that Africans are dying to go to Europe is something that shows lack of seriousness. Well, personally I need a lot of persuasion to leave Uganda. Why would I want to leave Uganda? I normally do it for friendship," Mr Museveni who assumed power as a rebel leader in 1986 said.


Accusing former president Idi Amin of killing many nationals and being a 'foreigners' favorite, he told Ugandans: "When Idi Amin made a coup (1971); he was supported by foreigners but for us straight away after he had announced his coup, we decided to fight him because he couldn't understand our Pan-African aims. We need state-power to solve problems of Africa not just positions. Ignore foreigners."


Holding grip on NRM party ideologies, Mr Museveni slammed foreigners saying, "If we had listened to them, we would have made mistakes. Foreigners can lead to a lot of distortions."


Background


In a letter dated January 2, that was leaked recently, it emerged that President Museveni who was declared winner of the January 14 elections with 58 percent of the votes cast, instructed the Ministry of Finance to suspend the activities of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), a basket fund of European countries that bankrolls most Ugandan civil society organisations that work on governance, rights and related themes.


Sanctions


The EU Parliament, in its statement issued on Thursday, resolved that "... sanctions against individuals and organisations responsible for human rights violations in Uganda must be adopted at EU level under the new EU (European Union) human rights sanction mechanism, the so-called EU Magnitsky Act".


The resolution was endorsed by 632 votes, with only 15 against and 48 abstentions.


The resolution was based on human rights violations that happened during the recently concluded general elections.


Violent elections


The elections were characterised by a crackdown by security forces and government agencies against the Opposition and civil society organisations, with Opposition players, in particular the National Unity Platform (NUP), still crying foul.


More than 60 people were killed, with 54 killed in the melee that followed the arrest of NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, on November 18, according to the State. Hundreds more were injured and thousands arrested during the elections.


During the election campaigns, President Museveni consistently accused Western countries of working with the Opposition to remove him from power.


The imposition of sanctions would be a major blow to Uganda government operations since the EU is Uganda's biggest development partner and gives more than Shs500b in aid annually. The EU individual members also give substantive funding to Uganda.


UK cut funding


Early this week, the United Kingdom also cut funding to security forces and also promised to review aid to Uganda over what they called human rights abuses.


The EU Parliament instructed its president to forward their document to European bodies, the President of Uganda, the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, and the African Union.


The EU Magnitsky Act, which was passed in December 2020, is used to freeze assets and also impose travel restrictions on individuals found to be involved in human rights abuses.


Under a similar arrangement, the United States government recently sanctioned a number of Ugandans that it accuses in engaging in a wide range of abuses. Those sanctioned include army generals and judges.


This article was published by the Daily Monitor.

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