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Bobi Wine wants EU to act on Museveni

Bobi Wine at the European Parliament on Feb. 9 (PHOTO/BOBI WINE)

Urges them to stop associating with `dictators’

Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | “The torture in my country does not just need EU to issue a statement but to do more….” That was part of the speech that the leader of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP),  Robert ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine when he addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, at the fifth annual Africa Week Conference on Socialists.

Bobi Wine added, “We long to see international partnerships with African States not being abettors of crime and supporting the abuse of human rights but rather standing with victim of torture and bad leaders.”

The 2021 presidential candidate reminded the European lawmakers about the unresolved injustices of the recent election.   “I will give you an example of the November 18 and November 19, 2020 incidents where more than 100 people were killed in broad daylight by security forces that are funded by the West.”

He added: “We have seen on many occasions that the West has been associated with dictators and yet this shouldn’t be the case in this generation.”

Ugandans have expressed frustration over the continued financial and military aid from Western donors to the government of President Yoweri Museveni in spite of a worsening human rights record in the country. Year after year, Ugandans watch helplessly as Uganda receives financial and military aid while subjecting its dissidents and government critics to torture.

Bobi Wine was speaking just days after the case of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija whose body bearing grisly marks of torture shocked many in Uganda. For international community, it has brought back the dilemma of how far Uganda’s longtime donors are willing to wait to show their displeasure with the aid recipient. Kakwenza has since gone into exile.

Kakwenza’s case was similar to that of Simon Masereka, coordinator of NUP for Kasese district who was tortured and released recently. He could barely walk and his body had similar marks of beatings and deep scars.

His torture has sparked an international uproar by democracy and human rights groups against Museveni’s government. However Ugandan activists say all that is window dressing.

Andrew Karamagi, a lawyer and human rights activist told The Independent that the rhetoric does not cut it. He wants donors to stop giving Museveni’s government military aid in the form of materiel (equipment), training exercises, and funding.

“It is now beyond the pale of doubt that this support is leveraged by the regime to manage political questions,” he says, “The donor community, particularly the United States, and other members of the industrialised West have not only a moral but legal obligation to halt their largesse to a regime that has lost its legitimacy and has demonstrated a readiness to stop at nothing in its quest for the life presidency of its leader.”

Karamagi said it is also critical that the West understands that they cannot safeguard their own economic and military interests in an unstable Uganda and Great Lakes region. “It is also in their self-interest to ensure an open, free, and democratic society in which the rights and liberties of all citizens are upheld.”

Some of Uganda’s top military leaders like former Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura and former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) commander Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho are under U.S. sanctions for their alleged role in the incidents that have brought Uganda into disrepute.

But the sanctions appeared to have no impact when President Museveni re-appointed Kandiho in a key position as Joint Chief of Staff of the Uganda Police Force.

Masereka has sued Kandiho and the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka over the torture that was meted on him in detention.

Donor condemnation

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda kicked off the statements condemning the actions. In a reaction to Kakwenza’s torture, the US Mission to Ugandan put out a statement on Feb. 4 urging the government of Uganda to “protect the rights of its citizens and to hold accountable those who violate these rights.”

The British High Commission also used the same language appealing to the government to do better in a Feb. 7 statement.  “Recent reports of the use of torture in Uganda are very concerning. The Constitution of Uganda clearly prohibits the use of torture. We urge the Government of Uganda to investigate these reports in a transparent manner and publicly hold those responsible to account.”

The European Union delegation to Uganda echoed its counterparts on Feb. 5 saying it “fully shares the concern of many Ugandan stakeholders over a situation that has for more than a year seen a significant increase of reports of torture…”

In the continuing back and forth between Uganda and Western diplomats over torture, Uganda issued a protest note to Germany after the envoy of the latter country, Matthias Schauer, wrote a letter to the presiding magistrate, Douglas Singiza, in the Kakwenza case to return the passport of the accused. According to reports, the ambassador wanted Kakwenza’s passport returned to enable him travel to Germany where he had been invited by a writer’s association.

The apparent inaction of Western powers at human rights abuses in Uganda could be seen from reactions of Ugandans following proceedings at the recent 40th session of the Universal Periodic Review. The Review is a process where the human rights record of all UN member states are reviewed. At this session held in late January, the record of 12 states including Uganda, was under review.

Elizabeth Kemigisha, a lawyer working with FIDA, the association of women lawyers in Uganda tweeted her frustration on Jan. 28. “Yesterday as UG was being reviewed at the #UPR40 The Attorney General reported that there were no extrajudicial killings in UG by security forces. Now, I know how important these processes are but sometimes, I also feel like it is all empty rhetoric that doesn’t serve any purpose.”

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4 comments

  1. President MUSEVENI agezaako okurwaanyisa abaturuguna abantu, era nebimu bibaawo oluusi nga tabimanyi, naye temulowooza nti aba abyagala mugwaanga, nedda, burikimu ku president?? HON. KYAGULANYI Bwobelagwe okorotya? Ebyobufuzi obivako?

  2. Resorting to White Power again?

    What happened to People Power?

    Can such a person be trusted to protect the sovereignty of our country and support us as we defend ourselves against the hidden agendas and interests of the colonialists?

    Disappointing just.

  3. But why is nobody advising Bobi Wine on the dangers of this White Power path he is taking? He seems to be lacking some very fundamental awareness.

    “The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”

    – Boris Johnson

    Don’t abandon People Power… invest more time and energy into building it. Its potential is unlimited. We need People Power in Uganda, don’t replace us with White Power… it will not end well.

    Can somebody please advise him properly?

  4. “The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”

    – Boris Johnson

    Bobi is busy reopening portals that he himself has no capacity to close, without even realizing it.

    Somebody please advise Bobi Wine.

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