US president Barack Obama has taken an indirect swing at President Yoweri Museveni for failing democracy in Uganda.
Obama who is on a tour of Europe, made the stinging remarks in his address to the people of Europe at Hannove Messe Fairgrounds Hannover, Germany on Monday.
“Democracy, I understand, can be messy. It can be slow. It can be frustrating. I know that. I have to deal with a Congress,” Obama said sending the audience rolling with laughter.
He said in the US, they have to constantly work to make sure government is not a collection of distant, detached institutions, but is connected and responsive to the everyday concerns of our people.
“But look around the world,” he turned attention to African states,”– at authoritarian governments and theocracies that rule by fear and oppression.”
US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power during the UN Security Council debate on March 21, 2016 was critical of Uganda’s democratic process citing the 2016 elections noting that security forces detained opposition figures without legal justification harassed their supporters and intimidated media.
“– there is no doubt that democracy is still the most just and effective form of government ever created,” Obama continued, receiving an applause from the audience.
“And when I talk about democracy, I don’t just mean elections, because there are a number of countries where people get 70, 80 percent of the vote, but they control all the media and the judiciary.”
Museveni said he was actually cheated and should have got 80 percent not 65 percent of the total vote.
He is accused of not only intimidating media but also controlling the judiciary especially after Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi challenging Museveni’s victory.
“And civil society organisations and NGOs can’t organize, and have to be registered, and are intimidated,” Obama continued, re-echoing Samantha’s words.
Samantha, speaking at UN, also cited the legislation restricting operations of non-governmental organisations and that president Museveni actions contravened the rule of law, jeopardised Uganda’s democratic process and threatened the country’s future stability and prosperity.
In a statement issued by the Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MOFA], Government says it had credible information that Kizza Besigye had every intention to mobilise a “one million march” to the electoral commission located in the middle of Kampala city to collect his election results.
The statement also said the Ugandan media environment is “free, pluralistic and mainly driven by the private sector”.
“Restrictions on social media from February 18-20 were based on reliable information available to government that some individuals were planning to cause disruption, mayhem and violence using social media platforms.”
On the issue of the NGO Act, MOFA said the purpose was to align the activities of the non-governmental organisations with the national priorities and government development plans as well as to extend to them the same accountability they advocate for other actors.
“Contrary to the views expressed by Amb Power, the preventive measures Uganda government has put in place are to protect Uganda’s young democracy and promote stability and prosperity in Uganda and the region as a whole.”
But Obama says: “I mean real democracy, the sort that we see here in Europe and in the United States. So we have to be vigilant in defense of these pillars of democracy — not just elections, but rule of law, as well as fair elections, a free press, vibrant civil societies where citizens can work for change.”
US ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac recently raised dust with her persistent criticism of Museveni’s regime.