State House press team has once again thrown President Yoweri Museveni in another global scandal, embarrassing him beyond repair.
This time round, the team went out of their way and “cooked up” a non-existent story titled: “UN’s Ban Ki Moon appeals to Museveni over Burundi…” dated May 5, 2015.
President Museveni who was on a 5-day working visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, in USA, delivered a keynote address at the UN Forum on Strengthening Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations.
He also held talks with the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Sam Kutesa, the US National Security Advisor, Ms. Susan Rice and Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete.
As usual, Ugandan media was excited by the Burundi story in which Ban allegedly “appealed to Museveni to help avert the deteriorating situation in Burundi and restore peace”.
“Ban Ki Moon commended President Museveni and other regional leaders for their efforts that brought peace to Burundi leading to the democratic transition,” stated a press release by the presidential press team.
This came on heels of Museveni’s scathing speech in which he accused UN of disorganisation and having caused more harm in Africa especially Libya and Rwanda.
UN denies asking Museveni to meddle in Burundi, suggests Museveni “made up a tale for himself”
Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, picked the release published by Daily Monitor and passed the story as a fairy tale.
Haq told Black Star News, a US website that “no such appeal was made to Museveni”.
“Our efforts on Burundi involve getting the parties to engage in dialogue with each other and have nothing to do with military intervention. Our envoy Said Djinnit is in Burundi to hold talks among the parties,” Haq said.
He added: “We don’t have any comment on what the Ugandan authorities said and we did not put out a readout of the meeting.”
The report was picked and spread widely on Twitter throwing President Museveni into another series of messy global episodes that the press team is fond of creating now and then.
The question is why Ban would ask Museveni to intervene in Burundi yet there is a regional bloc, EAC that could mediate the conflict?
The EAC chairman, Kikwete, was personally in New York at the same time and even met Ban.
It is known that Museveni played a pivotal role that led to Burundi peace and Pierre Nkurunziza’s capture of power.
Ban Ki-Moon and several world leaders have confidence in Museveni’s mediational roles since they have appealed to him to handle several conflicts before.
However, the new development would see Ban undermining the role of the EAC which, by the way, is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss the Burundi question.
This is not the first time Museveni’s press team has thrown the leader in international scandals.
Remember the Pope’s alleged “confirmed visit to Uganda”?
At the close of last year, Museveni’s press team made a release alleging that Pope Francis had “confirmed to him that he would visit Uganda” in 2015.
When the President returned from Rome, he authored an article angrily attacking Ugandan media for reporting inaccurately about his meeting with Pope Francis.
“Why do the newspapers and, I imagine, the radios and Televisions (TVs) in Uganda like to be inaccurate, mendacious and speculative in their reporting? Why do you not insist on proven facts before you air or you put in print any news item?” wondered the President.
What had happened was that the press team was busy fighting over Museveni’s social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and got the facts of the discussion upside down.
The press team even published the article titled: “Pope Francis, President Museveni Meet, Confirm Papal Visit To Uganda” on the State House website, Office of the Prime Minister and Uganda Media Centre under the headline: “Pope Francis expresses willingness to visit Uganda for the 50th anniversary of canonisation of Uganda Catholic Martyrs at Namugongo.”
The same press release running under a similar headline was uploaded on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Information and National Guidance (the second biggest reference for Ugandan media) the next day.
It followed the Brussels visit where they fought over pictures and speeches and ended up failing to report the President’s message.
The Kabila saga
When Museveni was still the President of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR which he handed over to Angola), the press team came up with a press release alleging that he had told the “Belgian Foreign Minister that Kabila mistreats opponents” in October 2013.
A State House press statement after Museveni’s meeting with the Belgians, noted that the president warned that Europe risked becoming part of the problem rather than the solution in Congo if they inflated Kabila’s ego.
Museveni who was supposed to reconcile Kabila and M23 rebels making such utterances nearly sparked a diplomatic stand-off between Uganda and Congo.
The Nigerian scandal
In May 2014, the press team came up with a new one on Nigeria saying Museveni had mocked the Nigerian military and President Goodluck Jonathan over failure to contain the extremist sect, Boko Haram.
Museveni allegedly said he would “rather hang than surrender his country’s security to foreigners-UN”.
“Me, Yoweri Museveni to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN….I would rather hang myself,” Museveni reportedly said.
The Nigerian government threatened to fire back if Museveni did not withdraw the remarks.
The Uganda Foreign Affairs Ministry hastily wrote a letter apologising to Goodluck.
The Machar fairy tale
In November 2014, the press unit also alleged that Museveni had met physically the South Sudan rebel chief, Riek Machar, and held talks on the ongoing war.
South Sudan media protested the allegation only to be realised that Museveni had instead met the SPLA in opposition team led by Gen. Alfred Lado Gore and Garang’s son over peace efforts in South Sudan.
Angola and “hunger” report
Another State House release alleged that Museveni was in Angola for a meeting tackling hunger in Africa which was tweeted by Uganda Media Centre.
As it later turned out, Museveni was attending the ICGLR Summit of Heads of State which had nothing to do with “hunger in Africa”.
More is yet to come.