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What next after Clinton’s damning Uganda report?

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It is not authenticated but a report purported to be by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the American Congress on the 2011 Uganda elections could have serious implications.

The report is the first in a series that the US Congress, in an unprecedented move, asked Clinton to write after every 30 days regarding the government of Uganda actions on the 2011 elections. 

Congress’s directive was interpreted as a sign that the US is taking a hawkish view of the government of Uganda behavior and could take punitive action.

There is speculation that if the does not carry out reforms to ensure free and fair elections, the US may cut its aid to Uganda and also influence other development partners to follow suit.

The intention appears to be to nudge President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 24 years and has won election mired by fraud and violence, to hold a clean election in 2011.

The MP for Busongora South, Christopher Kibanzanga, told a journalist: “The donors have the key; they pushed President Museveni to accept multi-partyism and when they called him over the Anti-homosexuality Bill, the President immediately changed his position. If the donors tell him to accept the electoral reforms we are pushing for as the opposition, there is no doubt he will accept them within days.”

The report circulating in the media has not been authenticated.

Joann Lockard, the Public Affairs Officer at the US Mission in Uganda said “it is only the State Department that can authenticate the report”.

However, other source familiar with the US Statement said the report, which is highly critical of the way government is managing the process to the 2011 elections, is genuine.

The Clinton report indicts the Uganda government for failing to carry out reforms to ensure independence of the Electoral Commission, using the police to intimidate the opposition and restrict their freedom of movement and freedom of the press, among others.

“The exclusion of key stakeholders from the appointments process compromised the Commission’s independence and will damage the credibility of the 2011 electoral process,” the report says in part.

Ofwono Opondo, who is the Deputy Spokesperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, said the report was irrelevant. “It is the people of Uganda who have to decide whether elections are free or fair and not the Americans,” he said.

He said the Clinton report would not have any serious impact on Uganda since she is not the first American Secretary of state to give official criticism on decisions taken by the Ugandan government.

“She is just passing through the American government and she won’t be the first to condemn the Uganda government’s actions,” Opondo said.

His boss, Mary Karooro Okurut, the spokesperson of NRM, said the Clinton report is unfair because the State Department did not listen to her government’s side.

“The Clinton report is a one-sided affair. It clearly shows they have bought the opposition story wholesale. NRM is condemned and pronounced guilty in a trial where she wasn’t given an opportunity to give her side of the story,” Karooro said.

The report comes at a time when donor countries are cutting aid to developing countries because of the global financial downturn. Democratic governance is one of the key conditions they consider in giving or freezing aid.

The US Appropriations Committee, which is the recipient of the Clinton report, is one of the largest and most powerful committees in the U.S. Congress. It is the one that authorises expenditure of any money by the US government. It has several sub-committees whose chairmen are so powerful that they are often called “Cardinals” because of the power they wield over the budget.

Currently, the committee is at the centre of a tussle between the equally powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Budget Committee after the latter sliced the former’s aid budget by up to US$4 billion from US$58.5 billion. This means that with the reduction of the aid budget, the Senate Foreign relations Committee may give priority to countries which adhere to strict principles of good governance.

With Uganda’s governance credentials getting dented by the Clinton report, its chances of getting the US aid could get slimmer.

The US aid to Uganda is channelled through either USAID or the State Department or a combination of both.

In 2009, the total amount of US aid to Uganda was $390 million (about Shs 800 billion). The Ministry of Transport has the biggest portion of Uganda’s budget at Shs 1.1 trillion as per the 2008/9 financial year.

However, President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly said donors should not tie development assistance to demands for good governance and democracy.

Before the Clinton report, the US ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, Martin Shearman (UK), and Joroen Verhaul (Netherlands) had expressed concern over the fairness of Uganda’s 2011 elections.

While celebrating the Dutch National Day on April 30, the Ambassador Joreon Verheul said his country was considering cutting aid to African countries and one of the reasons was failure to have free and fair elections. 

But Prof. Augustus Nuwagaba, a lecturer at Makerere University and a consultant on poverty eradication, says if the result of the report by America is it to cut aid, it would be good for Uganda because it allows the country to learn to stand on its own feet.

“Why should we mind about aid? A cut in aid would allow us to develop internal mechanisms of generating revenue,” Prof. Nuwagaba said.

He said lack of aid had allowed Kenya develop ways of generating domestic revenue. He said Kenya has not had aid since 2000 and as a result, it is now able to finance its budget up to 98%. He added that receiving aid has not developed Uganda more than lack of it would have done.

Leaders of some opposition parties in Uganda have said the report would not do much in improving the democratic process in Uganda. They say the report talks about things that the opposition in Uganda “has complained about for a long time” but no action has been taken. 

Officials from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) said the report might not change the situation and ensure that Uganda holds a free and fair election. 

But FDC spokesperson Wafula Oguttu commended it saying the report saying “at least has stripped bare President Museveni’s lies on Uganda’s democracy”.

The FDC vice president for Eastern Uganda Salaamu Musumba said the Americans are only good at talking about Uganda but they never take any action.

“We are not relying on the international community to force the Museveni government to do anything,” Musumba said.

She added the American government seems to peddle a lie that a strong opposition is bad for Uganda but added that a strong democracy cannot be built on a one-political party system.

“We have seen them act against President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, we have also seen them react against Kenyan politicians but when it comes to Uganda, they never do anything,” she charged.

She said it would be better if instead of writing reports about Uganda, the American government provided funds for state of the art election registration kits which India used in their elections. Musumba said these would reduce the likelihood of rigging elections especially during the registration of voters.

See report on www.independent.co.ug


Comments (11)Add Comment
Lecturer
written by Jonathan Kalani, May 11, 2010
Do you mean there has been no fundamental change? Is it a mere change of guards? Will political salvation come from America? Why don't the opposition sit with NRM and chart a way forward? Uganda belongs to all of us. Is it NRM property?
Lecturer
written by Jonathan Kalani, May 11, 2010
Do you mean there has been no fundamental change? Is it a mere change of guards? Will political salvation come from America? Why don't the opposition sit with NRM and chart a way forward? Uganda belongs to all of us. Is it NRM property?
Effective way
written by Namwatulira, May 11, 2010
1.Channel AID to local leaders who have the people's interest other than the central government. The US did this successfully in Iraq.
2. Since they (Ugandan government) are not scared of Aid cut, let the Europans and Americans cut off all trade ties. Let's see where these tough talking NRM scams will sell their fish and oil.
3. Strengthen NGO's by providing them with more funds to help the locals who will be affected with trade sunctions
4. Sunction corrupt officials from all travels to Europe and America. The travel ban should cover all their immediate families and relatives.
lessons of history
written by ali nadduli, May 11, 2010
Allah S.W.T. mentions in the Quran that the pharaoh divided his people into classes in order to rule them. So you are unhappy with the rule in your respective countries, then strive to make a change without depending on the west. and when the west tries to interfere in your business, then unite and struggle against the west. take care of the little tyrant, but if a bigger tyrant tries to poke their nose in your business, then unite with the little tyrant and strive to shake off the influence of the bigger tyrant. this is the logical way to go, because if you unite with the bigger tyrant against the little tyrant, then you have no chance to break free of the bigger tyrant when they start oppressing you. but you can handle the little tyrant one on one.guys wake up and have a little pride.
Trade is important, Namwatulira
written by Paul, May 13, 2010
Namwatulira, you have some good ideas, but not all the people doing international trade are essentially NRM. Advocating for trade embargos is sick. Besides, it benefits all sides. And the other thing is that when the west abandons Uganda, don't for once believe the government will just sit by and lament. That will just leave enough space for countries like China, which is already interested in our newly dicovered petroleum, and Iran.
As a person, I side with Prf. Nuwagaba. We don't need aid.
When people say no
written by Jimmy, May 14, 2010
This time around, Mr. Mauseveni will have a difficult time winning this election by rigging or even violence.This time around, Mr. Museveni will come face to face TO NO YOU CANNOT DO THIS TO THE PEOPLE OF UGANDA AGAIN.There is a Country Music Singer who once sang a song with the following words...WHAT PART OF NO DONT YOU UNDERSTAND, WHAT PART OF DOOOONT YOU UNDERSTAAAAAND? The September riots was the first message, and the torching of the Kasubi tombs during his regime was second, and many more numerous occassions deliver the same message.SIR, MR. PRESIDENT WHY DONT YOU LIVE US ALONE? THE COUNTRY Can go on without you and your family.
...
written by Jimmy, May 17, 2010
Presidents come and go, the Country remains. I wonder why these guys are raping the country like this. I am tempted to think that most of them are not Citizens of the country. How can you be so malicious to your own country and the people. I blame those people who have enabled him to do such a damage on the country. Like the Ssebunya's, Kakooza, the Tamale's the poster boys of evil axis. Time will come when history will put aside and give you the justice you deserve, and if people thought that the Clinton report will yield nothing, Lets wait and see.....People are tired of this regime. why are they being so deaf.
...
written by Jimmy, May 17, 2010
Presidents come and go, the Country remains. I wonder why these guys are raping the country like this. I am tempted to think that most of them are not Citizens of the country. How can you be so malicious to your own country and the people. I blame those people who have enabled him to do such a damage on the country. Like the Ssebunya's, Kakooza, the Tamale's the poster boys of evil axis. Time will come when history will put aside and give you the justice you deserve, and if people thought that the Clinton report will yield nothing, Lets wait and see.....People are tired of this regime. why are they being so deaf.
...
written by Amigo, May 17, 2010
I think the credit for all this goes to Otunnu who came up with this idea of involving USA aid with how M7's govt perfoms on the free and fair election front.
We had to destroy the village in order to save it!
written by Imhotep, May 18, 2010
The Americans are some kind of people, aren't they? These guys must really think we are all bafoons, and judging from some of the comments above, who can blame them!? They are the very people that have been telling Museveni to stay on all this while, in order to maintain their interests. Now that they realise that actually things might not turn out as they should, they commission these silly reports to hoodwink the gullible citizens like Namwatulira. What a pity. Some of us are aware that as the galactic alignment takes place, the consciousness of the Black man is going to rise, and his days of coming second best are in their twilight. The Americans are trying to fool you. Imhotep.
replica rolex
written by replica rolex, March 06, 2012
I would get back again when I have sufficient time– however I am taking your RSS feed so I can read your site from cell phone. Thanks.

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