Henry Okello Oryem, minister of state for international affairs dismisses the emergence of Bobi Wine and diplomatic incidents as a sign of anything.
“At the end of the day, those in power in America know who is in charge,” Oryem told The Independent.
“They don’t just back a leader for the sake,” he said and referred to those schmoozing with Bobi Wine with ideas of fronting him as “jokers”.
“Those in authority know whom they back, they can meet Bobi Wine and we will not object as the government of the day,” Oryem added.
Oryem also cautions on the language of diplomats. “We engage them on all issues but remember what they say in the press is not what they say in private.”
He says the Kayihura sanctions are not a sign of diminishing relations with the U.S. government.
According to Oryem, some officials in the U.S. may meet with people like Bobi Wine but just as a matter of securing their interests among new or future leaders but not as a sign of shifting alliances.
“President Museveni is the lynchpin of stability and security in this region,” says Oryem. “There is no bigger player in the region.”
Adonia Ayebare, Uganda’s Permanent Representative at the UN, told The Independent that Uganda is very visible at the UN and is the guarantor of the South Sudan peace deal. Ayebare was in buoyant mood because Uganda had just won the right to host the South summit; a global platform for innovation.
He tweeted. “Uganda officially endorsed by 134 developing countries and China to host the third South Summit. The largest gathering of states Uganda has ever hosted. Congratulations to team Uganda.”
The summit could be seen by some as a sign of Uganda’s strength on the international stage under Museveni in spite of events which may indicate the contrary.
Museveni’s Regional influence
Some critics have pointed out that Museveni’s geopolitical credentials could be waning due to among other factors; the rise of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s fresh-faced Prime Minister and the uncertain future of the AMISOM mission in Somalia.
This narrative gained traction when Ahmed introduced wide ranging reforms in Ethiopia and brokered peace with Eritrea after twenty years of hostility. Ahmed who became Prime Minister last year was accepted as a mediator by protestors and opposition groups in Sudan on one hand and the Transitional Military Council on the other.
Museveni’s fallout with erstwhile comrade, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, seems to have further fed the narrative of a weakened Museveni for someone who once commandeered the Great Lakes region with bravado.
Moses Khisa, a political scientist, is in agreement with this supposition. “His recent feuding with Kigali exposed his vulnerability. It’s instructive that he had to seek mediation from two presidents who have been in power for a combined less than two years, that of DR Congo and Angola.”
According to Khisa, clinging onto power has been Museveni’s greatest undoing, which has eroded his regional respectability.
In January, columnist Charles Onyango Obbo said the DRC election held in December 2018 left Uganda as the ‘last Mobutuist state’ in East Africa. Of the six countries in the Great Lakes region, Museveni has served the longest.
However in spite of what critics point out, time has shown that Museveni still holds sway in the region. The Sudan Transitional Military Council led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan consulted Museveni at Mbale State Lodge on July 5 over the deadlock between the council and protestors after Bashir was deposed.
Other leaders in the region like South Sudan President Salva Kiir continually seek his counsel. Kiir is at State House Entebbe nearly every two months.