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UGANDA TALKS EXCLUSIVE: Rolling Stone newspaper to appeal High Court ruling

Monday, 03 January 2011 17:13
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Giles Muhame, the managing editor of the Rolling Stone that published an article identifying a group of Ugandans as homosexuals, is set to appeal against today’s High Court ruling against the newspaper.

The article indicated addresses and pictures of the individuals whom it described as "Uganda's top homos" under the title “Hang them”.

The High Court ruled that the newspaper violated the constitutional rights to privacy and safety of these individuals. The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Uganda announced that the court had awarded the three plaintiffs in whose names the case was launched damages of shs4.5m.

However, Muhame who says Rolling Stone is “exposing the evil in our society” told The Independent that the newspaper’s lawyers were already preparing an affidavit to set foot in the court of appeal. “We are also going to get signatures from Ugandans,” he added.

Human rights groups warned that the article in October put the lives of gay people in danger, saying that at least one women named in the story had been forced to leave her home after neighbours pelted it with stones.

 Rolling Stone

 

AP reports Obama to visit Africa again in 2011, calls President Gbagbo twice

Monday, 03 January 2011 14:04
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The Associated Press has an interesting story filed earlier today suggesting President Obama will return to Africa in 2011, visiting countries which ‘reflect positive democratic models’. This fits with the increasing focus of his administration on governance issues in Africa:

The White House says Obama will travel to Africa again and the political calendar means the trip will almost certainly happen this year, before Obama has to spend more time on his re-election bid. No decision has been made on which countries Obama will visit, but deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said stops will reflect positive democratic models.

The administration is monitoring more than 30 elections expected across Africa this year, including critical contests in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

"The U.S. is watching and we're weighing in," Rhodes said.

There is also a snippet showing how closely Obama is engaging with the stand-off in Côte d'Ivoire:

The President tried to call incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo twice last month, from Air Force One as Obama returned from Afghanistan and then a week later. Neither call reached Gbagbo; administration officials believe the Ivorian leader sought to avoid contact. So Obama wrote Gbagbo a letter, offering him an international role if he stopped clinging to power and stepped down.

Where do you expect him to visit? What odds do you give a stop in Kampala?

 Obama in Ghana

 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 02 January 2011 15:00
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Happy New Year to all our readers from The Independent team!

We will shortly be re-launching our website, including the Uganda Talks blog. We aim to provide the most comprehensive, rolling updates of the 2011 Uganda Election.

We want to hear from you too - what would you like us to do for the election?

You can leave a comment below or we are on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uganda-Talks/104413896910

And Twitter: @UgandaTalks

Best wishes for 2011 and we look forward to interacting with you.

The Independent Team 

 

Uganda and America Building on Success in Fighting AIDS

Thursday, 02 December 2010 10:42
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World AIDS Day is both a day of remembrance and a day of celebration.  We must all remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS.  It is in their honor that we work each and every day to provide HIV prevention, treatment, and care to millions of people and to make progress against this epidemic.

Yet, it is also a day to celebrate those whose lives have been improved and saved in Uganda and throughout the world, thanks to the global fight against this devastating disease.  On this World AIDS Day, it is important to remember that we have a shared responsibility to build on the success achieved to date by making smart investments that will ultimately save more lives. 

There is much success to build on:  In Uganda, the United States, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 207,000 men, women and children.  PEPFAR is also directly supporting 845,000 people in Uganda with care and support programs, including 250,000 orphans and other vulnerable children.

U.S. support continues to grow.  PEPFAR is not ending.  Instead, building on the success of PEPFAR and other global health programs, President Barack Obama has put forward an ambitious Global Health Initiative, which will support coordinated programs aimed at reducing lives lost from HIV/AIDS and other health challenges.  And through U.S. investments in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, many more people will benefit from prevention, care and treatment.

Our commitment to combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda has not wavered.  We will continue to support those currently receiving treatment from PEPFAR.  We are already looking at ways of improving program efficiencies and effectiveness, making smarter investments, increasing our value for money.  In addition, thanks to increased support from Washington, we will have additional resources for treatment services.  This started with an infusion of antiretroviral drugs to the National Medical Stores in September, enabling the Ministry of Health to continue treatment while waiting for the next tranche of Global Fund drugs.  An increase in funding in the short- and medium-term will enable us to reach 36,000 additional patients with direct treatment support this year and next year.

But the U.S. Government is obviously not - and should not be - the sole supporter of prevention, care, and treatment, either globally or in any particular country.  Therefore, we are committed to continuing our intense engagement in support of the national multi-sectoral response led by the Uganda AIDS Commission, the Ministry of Health, and other ministries.  We are also committed to helping Uganda improve the functioning of the Global Fund and identify additional bilateral and multilateral funding.  We were pleased by the continued commitment of Government funds to purchase antiretroviral drugs, and encourage the Government to increase its support to HIV/AIDS and health in general in the years ahead.

To meet the need, Uganda's national government must resume the central role in leading the national response on health in general, and HIV/AIDS in particular.  This will require increased investment in leadership and coordination at all levels of the national response.  We will continue to work with the Government, civil society, and the private sector, laying out a shared strategic vision and joint responsibilities.  In this way, we can develop a roadmap towards joint strategic framework for cooperation, linked to the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan and the new National Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan.

On this World AIDS Day, we honor the lives lost and celebrate the lives saved.  Working together, we must remain dedicated to building on success by making smart investments to save even more lives. 


The author is, Jerry P. Lanier the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda

 

 

In Headlines: Kabaka Ronald Mutebi is headed back to Kayunga district; Malnourishment Kills 40 out of 100 children in Uganda

Friday, 01 October 2010 21:24
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Kabaka Ronald Mutebi is headed back to Kayunga district. After the government stopped him from travelling there last September, setting off riots that killed 22, Minister of Internal Affairs Kirunda Kivejinja, confirmed that the Kabaka was free to visit his subjects. “The other time there was a power contest,” he said. “But now everything is okay. When there is no challenge to authority there is no problem.”

Corruption Watch: “Corruption is now taken as an accepted way of life in Uganda,” said Eamon Michael Kelly, a renowned American professor, while delivering the keynote address on Inaugural Integrity and the Challenge of National Transformation at an event organized by ACLAIM yesterday. In today’s headlines, however, only a few corruption stories were printed—a light day. First, Koboko mayor Joseph Banga and finance head Tom Adriko were charged yesterday with causing financial loss stemming from an unauthorized land sale agreement Banga signed in May 08 that was worth Shs 5.8m on behalf of Koboko Town Council.

The other case surrounds the government’s recent Shs 1.5b contribution to Phenix Logistics Ltd, a private textile firm, without approval from Parliament. Parliament blocked the move, but the money had already been transferred by officials in the Ministry of Finance. The government has a 79 percent share-holding in the company and apparently has few qualms about using taxpayer money to boost its profits. “As far as we are concerned,” said Junior Finance Minister Fred Omach, “the investment of Shs 1.5b was within the law…We are allowed to spend and seek parliamentary approval later. This expenditure was within the allowable three percent of the approved budget for 09/10.”  

40 out of every 100 children in Uganda die as result of malnourishment and 15 percent of the population is malnourished. These dire statistics were presented yesterday by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in a campaign against hunger yesterday at Mosa Courts Apartments. The FAO called on the government to increase investment in agriculture and agricultural research to avoid future famine as Uganda’s population increases.

Taking a page out of Rwanda’s playbook, Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa has said that a United Nations report that implicates the UPDF of war crimes that include “establishing a reign of terror for several years with complete impunity” in a Congolese town, could jeopardize Ugandan regional peace missions in Somalia, Darfur, Ivory Coast and South Sudan.The draft report details Uganda’s military activities in Congo from 1993-2003 during a time it supported Congolese rebels who eventually overthrew President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.  The report documents cases of torture, massacres, sexual enslavement, the destruction of vital local infrastructure, and the pillage of resources such as gold, coltan and timber. In 2005 the International Court of Justice found the UPDF had violated human rights law during their Congo campaign and ordered it to pay $10 billion in damages to Kinshasa for which Kampala has yet to reply. The UN Human Rights Commission said their results will be published today. Col. Kulayigye, UPDF spokesman, said the army had not been provided the opportunity to counter the allegations, which he said are inaccurate and speculative.

 

National Water and Sewage Corporation are fed up of city residents stealing their water and yesterday they took their frustration out on Kyambogo University. With the launch of “Operation Wet Storm” a NWSC campaign to cut down on illegal water use, the company shut off the taps at Kyambogo in an effort to weed out the perpetrators of four illegal campus connections. As part of the operation, NWSC is offering a two week amnesty to anybody who is illegally connected to their network. “[If] you come and report to us during this amnesty period and you confess your sins, nothing will happen,” said NWSC Managing Director Dr. William Muhairwe. Otherwise, he warned, a water theft desk had been opened at Central Police Station.
 

UPDF 'despises' Besigye?

Monday, 03 January 2011 11:26 Joe Powell
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The most eye-catching headline in today’s newspapers comes on page 7 of The Observer, which announces ‘UPDF despises Besigye’s political bankruptcy’ above an article by Army spokesman Lt Col Felix Kulayigye. At first glance the article seems a worrying intervention by a Government institution that should of course be neutral in a national Presidential election. However, it does appear in this case that the sub-editors at The Observer may have got a little over-excited.

Parts of the article are certainly close to the partisan line, for example accusing Besigye of ‘cheap political opportunism’ for supposedly pinning blame for the LRA on President Museveni. Overall, though, the article’s tone is more factual rebuttal than attack piece. The problem is that any Army intervention this close to the election which is specifically directed at one candidate is bound to draw scrutiny. The spokesman may decide in future to keep his counsel – although my guess is he will be picking up the phone to The Observer sub-editor who on this occasion has done him no favours at all.

Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye

 

WikiLeaks fallout: US-Africa relations still strong and growing

Thursday, 09 December 2010 17:08
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Johnny Carson, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, has likened WikiLeaks to a person who eavesdrops on a conversation between a husband and wife discussing one of their in-laws which is purely a private matter but steals the information and lets it out in the public.  “We hope that those who have this information recognize that it is stolen material,” he said, cautioning the media not trade in it.

Carson said the contents in leaked US diplomatic cables do not in any way reflect the position of the US government but individual opinions of the diplomats, adding that the relation between the US and African countries is not affected by the WikiLeaks revelation of the secret US diplomacy.

The leaked cables about African leaders express unflattering comments by US ambassadors across the continent. Leaked cables about Uganda so far reveal that Museveni at one point expressed his fears to the US government that his long time friend, Libyan Leader Muammar al-Gaddafi  would shot down his plane and asked the US government to beef up his aerial security whenever he would travel. In a more recent cable written in October 2009 the US ambassador to Kampala, Jerry Lanier, allegedly wrote to his government that Museveni is “eroding the African success story”. The leaked cables described Kenya as a “flourishing swamp of corruption”. The revelations have sparked angry reactions from Kenyan government spokesman for instance.

“I am not going to confirm nor deny any information about one or two cables about any country,” said Carson, when asked  about alleged leaks that the US secretary of state asked its diplomats in the Great Lakes Region to collect information on leaders, military, opposition leaders and prominent people in the region. “No information that may emerge from WikiLeaks can weaken our relations with Africa,” Carson said. He was reacting to questions from journalists across the continent in a teleconference on Dec. 9.

The recent revelations by WikiLeaks on the US diplomatic maneuvers have brought the two faces of America, something that has angered the US government. The leaks show the visible soft public diplomacy and secret candid diplomacy assessment by American diplomats of peers from other countries.

In the same teleconference, Carson also spoke about a range of Africa-American issues including the crisis in Ivory Coast on which he announced that the US government respects the resolutions of the ECOWAS and the United Nations that recognizes Alassane Quattara as president-elect of that country.

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

 

 

Court dismisses sedition charges against journalist

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 00:58
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Kalundi Sserumaga, a former Radio One presenter, is a free man again after the Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate, Mathias Tumwijukye, dismissed the seditious charges against him. The magistrate cited the recent constitutional court ruling that scrapped the law of sedition off Uganda’s law books to dismiss the case.  While appearing on a local television station in September last year during the Buganda riots, Sserumaga made utterances that government did not take lightly.

During the talk show he castigated the president Museveni government for unleashing terror on Ugandans who were protesting the government’s refusal for the Kabaka to tour Kayunga district, which is one of the territories in Buganda Kingdom.A few minutes after the talk show, Sserumaga was kidnapped by security operatives after Friday and bundled in a car boot. Sserumaga was allegedly tortured and kept incommunicado for more than eight hours.

He was later dumped at Central Police station in Kampala where he was kept for three days before being charged with several counts of sedition. Sserumaga was later arraigned in court and charged with sedition and making statements that annoyed the person of the president.The dismissal of his case is a precedent in the struggle for freedom of expression and respect of the constitutional ruling.

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

 

In Headlines: Baganda failed VP Bukenya –Nadduli; More protests against new law on public gatherings

Thursday, 23 September 2010 20:43
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Baganda failed VP Bukenya –Nadduli: The new NRM party vice chairman for Buganda, Hajj Abdul Nadduli has said that Baganda betrayed Vice President Gilbert Bukenya by not looking for votes for him. Nadduli replaced Bukenya who lost the race for party secretary general to Amama Mbabazi. Despite his mobilization skills and confidence that he would defeat Mbabazi, Bukenya only managed to pull 903 votes compared to Mbabazi’s 5,694 votes and Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire’s 1,256 votes.

Warid Telecom cuts call rates by half: Warid Telecom’s 50% slash of its cross network call charges from Shs. 10 to 5 is set to send shockwaves in the telecommunication industry. Warid now becomes the cheapest service provider something that is likely to spark reactions from other players, Zain, Orange, UTL and MTN. This is not the first time Warid is leading a price war, its Pakalast profile which enables callers to enjoy 24 hour calls for only Shs.1500 is reported to have cut deep into the sales of other players and swung a number of subscribers to it.

New results for Lwemiyaga NRM primaries: Despite announcing new Lwemiyaga NRM primary elections, controversial MP Theodore Ssekikubo is still the winner. However, a team of party investigators yesterday said results announced by the party electoral chairperson, Ms Felicitus Magomu, were inflated by 11,000 votes. Previously, Mr Ssekikubo was declared winner with 15,423 after deducting 200 votes from Mr Nkalubo’s 15,466 for alleged tampering. The new results declared on Monday, however, show MP Ssekikubo has 9,413 votes while Mr Nkalubo got 9,255.

More protests against new law on public gatherings: Reports indicate that Dr Kizza Besigye the presidential candidate representing the four-party Inter- Party Cooperation said that the opposition is set to protest the Public Order Management Bill 2009. Besigye is reported to have said that the protest will highlight the potential of the Bill to instigate instability and cause confusion. The draft Bill, if passed will restrict public assemblies and require organisers of gatherings of more than 5 people to first seek permission from the police chief. The opposition will not be the first to protest the bill, civil society organisations, and international media rights activists have come up to express fear that the bill could hinder a fair election come 2010.

Ssuubi, anti-Mao DP group join IPC: Ssuubi 2010, a political mobilisation group of mainly Buganda leaning politicians, and the Samuel Lubega-led break away DP faction are set to officially join the IPC.  Reports indicate that the official admission only waits the signing of a memorandum of understanding. The admission comes after an amendment of the IPC protocol that allows the alliance to admit as members political groups that are not necessarily political parties.  However, Lubega’s DP faction was admitted as a political party with full rights as other IPC partners despite pending court cases that will determine its legality as DP. The development comes shortly after DP president Norbert Mao attacked Besigye accusing him of attempting to weaken DP by forging secret alliances with the party’s members.

 

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