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What donors say about Museveni in private

EU ambassadors meeting opposition

EU ambassadors meeting opposition

Behind closed doors, European Union ambassadors laid bare, with great specificity their concerns about governance and, security issues in Uganda and allegations of systematic human rights violations during a meeting with the National Unity Platform (NUP) leaning leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga and his shadow cabinet.

They didn’t lather any praise on the ruling NRM government last Friday but, rather, they set the record straight on their way of doing things.

The ambassadors said they don’t like the label “friends of the dictator” lavished on them by angry opposition people on social media; violence was not an option to pressure the ruling NRM out of power, the German ambassador said. The abduction and disappearance of opposition actors “is just disgusting” they said.

The meeting in the parliamentary Conference Hall began at 10am and went on well after 12 noon. The ambassadors were brutally honest, according to a source who attended the meeting.

In his submission, the German Ambassador Mathias Schauer didn’t mince words. He said, “What we are very concerned about is what you mentioned, people disappearing in these so-called drones (mini vans). This is just disgusting. This is unacceptable for any country with self-respect, with a Constitution that claims to have rule of law and this is something that sends shivers down my spine and I am really, really sad about it...”

“...and we mention this [disappearances] to the Foreign Affairs [ministry], we mention this to the Ministry of Interior when we meet them that we are extremely concerned about this and that we hope that this will stop. [What] We hear, is yes we are looking into it, yes there will be reports but then nothing happens. I mean we all know that phenomenon,” he added.

“...What you said, [President] Museveni and his surroundings are afraid. Of course they are afraid of losing control. Their top priority seems to be maintaining control, maximising control; that is why they go into micro management, which is not a way forward. It will not help the country to move forward. And you said, Museveni is also afraid of his surroundings, you know more about that than we do but what is the way forward?
The ambassador was also resolute in urging the opposition to embrace peaceful means of bringing change.

“In my experience and this is very general, the only way to engage is to try to create trust. Try to show the government that we are not here to destabilize. We want stability, we want development; so, let us move forward together and that takes a lot of patience and that means we will have setbacks, we will experience frustration but from my point of view, there is no alternative. I would like to quote my outgoing chancellor [Angela Merkel] who grew up in communist East Germany, violence is not an option,” he said.

The head of the EU delegation Attilio Pacifici asked some pointed questions.

“My question on the table, because it suits me really, two issues, you mentioned disappearances, but I also say there is a lot of accusations, for instance, these Masaka killings, how do you place that? I mean, you are really under pressure on that, on the one side and on the other side, let’s say, let’s put it candidly, as we said at the very beginning. I mean, the leader of the main opposition party [Robert Kyaggulanyi] is not in parliament right now. How does that make you feel? I mean, is it constraining you? Is it actually something that gives you more freedom, I mean how do you politically play that game? And then I will leave it to my colleagues.”

Pacifici also complained about attacks on social media. He is particularly rattled by the label “friends of the dictator” lavished on diplomats by angry legions of opposition supporters who think they are cozying up to the sitting government.

“When our countries bring donor funds, the funds are not for President Museveni as an individual. But, rather, the aid is for Ugandans. We fund projects for Ugandans not Museveni,” he said.

“Sometimes the language used on social media causes us problems on our side. Parties should prevail on the attackers. Sometimes we are too loud or too quiet depending on the prevailing situation.”

“We are here to communicate with the government in power. We report on what is happening here for our governments to act. We can’t criticize the government as some of you want us to do. We can’t go into activism...”

And the Danish ambassador Nicolaj Hejberg Peterson said Denmark is the legal entity of the suspended DGF.

“And yes, we’ve been suspended within parties and there’s a qualification to that. So actually, I do not think that there are many [people] that have actually been laid off work because what we have kept; we’ve kept the NGOs alive...to make sure that they could still pay salaries, utilities and so on. We did that after agreeing with government. But of course, we are extremely concerned about the situation,” he said.

“It has taken very, very long. We are working very hard with government to resolve the issue very soon. This has to be resolved one way or the other soon. Let me just say one thing very clearly... whatever you have seen in the media, accusations of the DGF as a vehicle supporting opposition, we don’t do that. We will never do that. It’s simply not true. We support civil society and also a number of state institutions and parliamentarians,” he said.

“We have programs here with parliament to train parliamentarians that have been suspended because we cannot do activities. That’s really a shame because it was a good program that was training new parliamentarians in parliamentary work and so on. IPOD, I mean, I would hope that NUP people join...I mean, it might not be what you want it to be, but it will never be that if you’re not part of it,” he said.

“And I really think that this country needs dialogue. I can understand a lot of grievances and so on. But I really do think that you should join (IPOD). .. So, what would be my call to you is to consider that.

He said they don’t support political parties “that would be illegal.”

“I mean, if Uganda came to Denmark and supported political parties that would also be, you know, illegal... And we have, of course, rejected that claim. That’s not what we do. That’s not what we do,” he said.

The EU delegation and NUP members pose for a photo at parliament

The Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) founded in February 2010 was meant to support a vibrant multiparty democracy in Uganda. Alongside JEEMA, its membership comprises the Democratic Party (DP), the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

The Austrian Ambassador Dr Rositha Kremser talked at length about the disappearances and sanctioning of the perpetrators of the abductions and killings.

“You have also seen that some of us are directly supporting the justice, law and order institutions and the most important of them is the judiciary. One of the key discussions that we are having is the terrible streak of disappearances. One of the issues we have in relation to this is the forced disappearances or abductions by state agents or however you want to determine this as well as the November 2020 events. Now there are two questions that arose.”

“The first one is compensation for the victims. So, we would like to know how far you are having a conversation with government on compensation for the victims and their families or for persons that have been subjected to torture by state agents. Of course these are forward cases that are verified by state agents.”

“The other point is the individual sanctions because it’s good to know the fate and I think it’s very important for us to know that you are still in dialogue with the government to know where the missing persons are and what about those cases where we know what happened and we know who the perpetrator was? So, the second question is the sanctions. So, those are the two questions that I would like to raise”.

Scores of people were killed by security personnel and hundreds were injured during and after the riots sparked by the arrest and incarceration of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi in the eastern district of Luuka during the 2020 election campaigns.

The Swedish Ambassador Maria Hakansson, said the civic and political space is a key issue they follow very closely and “is high on our agenda both politically and in our development cooperation and I think sometimes it is important for everyone to make a distinction that when we talk about intimidation of opposition and an unlevelled playing field, it doesn’t mean that we are supporting the opposition political parties.”

“We obviously support the framework for allowing people to have their say. It is unfortunate that this is interpreted in a way that donors are intervening on behalf of specific political parties,” she said.

The shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba offered a sharp perceptive on the current political situation. He said since Uganda got independence in 1962, “...all our leaders, our presidents, including the current one, have nursed one idea of being presidents till death.”

“When you come to our current situation, if you say you have talked to government, there is no government, we only have one strong man, he is the procuring officer for all contracts, be it public or private,” he said.

“If you are to have land rights, you must have them at his pleasure, if environment is to be destroyed and he is interested in it being restored, he will ensure its restored, if not, it will go...” he said.

“...And the biggest challenge he now has, although he states that he is 77 years of age, most of us believe he is above 80. I think he is living in some sort of delusion, he has this phobia, of course he does not see himself alive when he is not a president, and age is catching up with him. There is a lot of goings-on even within his own family, people are saying his son should take up (the presidency), and of course he wouldn’t want to see this,” he said, adding that, “So unless you our partners especially US, EU and UK come out and openly tell him that yes we believe you have done your part kindly consider transiting peacefully, we are sitting on a time bomb as a country.”

“His recent pronouncements on bail of course were targeted two-fold; one to threaten the judicially not to exercise its function especially where
he has personal interest and two, you will also realize the trend in the matters of land holding debate, the oil sector and all those things, they are all intertwined on how can he reserve and preserve himself in power.”

“One of you has talked about the kidnappings, if you have followed the recent press statements by the former Internal Security Organisation (ISO) director Kaka [Bagyenda] and if any of you had an opportunity of talking to him or talking to the former inspector general of police [Kale Kayihura], most of these insecurities in the areas of our respective parts of the country are state inspired and state managed.”

“The information we have is that there is a rivalry between different state security agencies particularly CMI and ISO, the two have a rivalry and of course you know we have so many peripheral state security agencies that are not connected, like in the army itself we have SFC, it’s literary acting as an independent arm, you have the air force and the like. So, there is that rivalry and all [entities] are looking at who gets the president’s ear first, who gets the resources for their operations.... So, it is them who commit these crimes and of course with the knowledge of specific individuals... so, we are in real muddy and murky waters,” he said.

“And most of the things would really not happen especially you people who get the opportunity of talking to him, talking to his ministers is waste of time. It is him that must be talked to, if we are to have any sense of good governance, any sense of fighting corruption, any sense of ensuring people don’t disappear, it can only be by talking to him, he is the master of each and everything...”

Mpuuga, the leader of opposition in Parliament, told the ambassadors that insults hurled at them on social media don’t reflect the official position of the opposition parties. He said, however, that the complaint had been taken into consideration.

Commenting on sanctions against perpetrators of abductions, the LoP said, “We have identified individuals within security organizations and we are working on taking them to court. We are also lobbying international partners to see them indicted...”

About dialoguing with President Museveni, Mpuuga said, “We have been too patient with President Museveni. We don’t want to be pushed too much. We can only go into dialogue with an honest man and General Museveni is not one of them...”

Santa Sandra Alum (UPC whip) said it was a waste of time for NUP to join IPOD.

“I have been part of the IPOD process as UPC whip. It’s largely a waste of time. You agree on things but nothing is implemented. It makes no sense for NUP to come to a platform where there’s no commitment from the ruling party...

Mpuuga said; “NUP issued a statement with a list of demands. We wanted the unconditional release of all political prisoners and an audit of the previous elections. There are issues we raised and if we are given answers, we will consider joining...”

“While you are inviting us to dialogue, think about Ugandans who have been killed, abducted and government isn’t bothered...”

“We had chosen to play civil politics but the political witchhunt in the central and eastern regions where the ruling party was defeated is simply too much,” he said.

Comments

-1 #31 Wainanchi 2021-10-22 20:41
Olaka---Vebale nyo nyo.! Wel said my comrade !!
Thank God I have a company.

Viva Ssevo! You white gringos shut up and booze your whiskey--- and piss off Uganda
If you want to be good and friend,,,show your money and cards!!!

But you don't ,didnot you Bloody gringos !!
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0 #32 Zaitun 2021-10-25 18:09
Quoting Wainanchi:
Olaka---Vebale nyo nyo.! Wel said my comrade !!
Thank God I have a company.
Viva Ssevo! You white gringos shut up and booze your whiskey--- and piss off Uganda
If you want to be good and friend,,,show your money and cards!!!....gringos !!


You are right to boast, being one of those thieves who are hiding money stolen from poor Ugandans.

As one of the presidential advisors, you have greatly benefited from theft.

We know who you are. You can insult Ugandans but the D day is coming when thieves will be forced to vomit what ever they have swallowed, be that by their mouths, nostriles or guts will not be our problem.

But the truth is that you will be hunted everywhere. Even those diplomats with whom you have been swindling our money will never come to your aid. Let that be clear to you.

Do you know what we mean by freezing accounts of African political thieves which are kept in foreign countries?
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