Foreign Activists Slam Western Governments for Propping Up Museveni Regime

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Foreign democracy activists have stated that western development partners have no interest in supporting the growth of democracy in Uganda and Africa at large.

Jeffrey Smith, the founding director of Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy nonprofit organization, says US policy towards Uganda has been largely flawed for decades and this is unlikely to change even under the Biden administration.

Yves Engler, a Montreal-based writer and political activist says the Canadian and US government’s foreign policy is not motivated by democracy but fuelled by a mix of geostrategic calculations and corporate interests.  He says Museveni’s position as a military ally of Washington is likely to remain and keep the NRM in power.

Engler notes that the killing of over 50 people during the November 2020 riots was outrageous but Canada’s response and criticism of the brutal crackdown was weak, owing to the fact that Canada too as geostrategic interests in Uganda.

They were speaking during an online discussion called the African Integration forum 2021 held on Friday under the theme “reimaging North America’s foreign policy with Uganda.”

The United States provides significant development and security assistance to Uganda, with a total assistance budget exceeding USD 970 million per year. It also plays a key role in supporting the professionalization of the military.

Democracy activists believe that President Museveni’s position as a regional military kingpin and peacekeeper makes foreign governments overlook his poor human rights and democratic record at home.

Smith, however, says that there is a glimmer of hope since even before the January 14 elections, several of President Biden’s top advisors spoke out against the rights violations that were witnessed in the country, like the crackdown on the opposition and civil society.

He listed these advisors as Jake Sullivan who is going to be Biden’s National security advisor, Samantha Power who will be heading USAID and Linda Thomas Greenfield who has been critical of Museveni’s regime in the past.

Helen Epstein an American writer says that in the early 90s’, there was a theory back then that democracy and human rights in Africa was secondary to the provision of basic needs and economic growth. She says this theory has been debunked since dictatorship leads to corruption of poverty and deterioration of public services.

She observed that the suspension of the Democratic Governance Facility DGF in Kampala is a” disaster in so many respects.”

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