Natalie Brown finally meets Bobi Wine at Magere
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Natalie E. Brown, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda has finally met and held talks with Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the President of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party.
Brown’s meeting with Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine took place on Jan.30, over 12 days after the ambassador was prevented from accessing him by the Uganda security forces on Jan. 18.
Kyagulanyi’s home had been besieged by the military and were under strict instructions not to let visitors into his’s home at Magere on the northern outskirts of Kampala. When Brown tried to visit Kyagulanyi on Jan.18, she was stopped and turned away by the security forces.
The American embassy said at the time that the ambassador wanted to check on Kyagulanyi’s “health and safety.” But the Uganda government through its Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, accused the U.S of trying to “subvert” the recent presidential elections which saw Yoweri Museveni declared winner with close to 59% of the vote cast against his closest rival, Kyagulanyi, who polled 35% of the vote.
However, on Jan.25, Court ordered the security forces to stop the confinement of Kyagulanyi and his wife, calling it unlawful and a violation of his rights. Kyagulanyi immediately began receiving guests with the very first high profile visitor being Kate Airey, the British High Commissioner to Uganda who paid him a courtesy visit on Jan. 27.
According to a statement posted on the American embassy’s Facebook page on Jan.30, Amb. Brown and Kyagulanyi “discussed the political situation in Uganda, the essential role that constructive political opposition plays in a democracy, the decades-long partnership between the people of Uganda and the United States, and the political transition in the United States.”
“On the eve of African-American History Month, celebrated in the United States each February, they also discussed America’s continued effort to achieve the promise of liberty and justice for all, the important legacy of civil rights leaders and ordinary citizens who have dedicated their lives to advance that goal, and how these experiences have influenced others globally in the pursuit for more inclusive and representative societies,” the statement reads in part.
Brown also commended the participation of candidates from across Uganda’s political spectrum in the country’s recent elections. However, she noted that the United States continues to be deeply concerned about the extrajudicial detention of opposition political party members, the reported disappearance of several opposition supporters, and continued restrictions on the NUP’s operations.
Brown reiterated that the United States does not take sides or support any specific candidate or party in Uganda’s elections. She called for all political parties and their supporters to use constitutional, legal, and non-violent means to address complaints over election irregularities and emphasized U.S. support for the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and movement.
“Political violence, repression, and intimidation have no place in democracies,” she said.