Thursday April 7 2016

US lacks competence to criticise Uganda’s democracy – Govt

Ofwono Opondo.

Ofwono Opondo. 

By Othman Semakula

Uganda has told the US it lacks the competence to criticise its democracy with government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo reminding one of the country’s largest development partners that they [government] are fully satisfied with both the pace and achievements so far registered.

“The US, which uses raw power to project its influence and interests around the world, is the least competent to ask other nations for democratic accountability,” Mr Opondo, who is the government media centre executive director said in a statement released Thursday.

Mr Opondo was reacting to comments made by Ms Deborah Malac on Wednesday in which the US ambassador criticised government for poorly handling the February 18 elections, which as she said had cast Uganda’s standing on democracy in bad sharp as well as tarnishing the country’s image.

Ms Malac, who was speaking at a symposium in Kampala also said the US could not ignore actions that shrink the country’s [Uganda] political space and restrict freedoms of expression and assembly, echoing comments made by Ms Samantha Power, the US permanent representative to the UN, who last month told the UN Security Council that President Museveni was a risk to Uganda’s future stability due to his government’s worsening repressive behaviour.

However, Mr Opondo cautioned Ms Malac and other like her against relying on partisan report, singling out the EU Election Observers report, which slammed the February 18 elections as having lacked internationally accepted standards.

Mr Opondo advised those who continue to criticise the poll to “either adduce evidence or keep their peace for good”, revealing that government was aware of some groups in the US and EU, including diplomats, that fund Opposition elements in Uganda to cause government change outside the constitutional framework.

In her speech Ms Malac also said it was wrong for government to curtail the rights and freedoms of people, particularly those who oppose it.

Her comments came a day after police re-arrested Dr Kizza Besigye as he tried, after 42 days under house arrest, to make his way to Najjanankumbi, his party’s [FDC] headquarters, to attend the weekly prayers that are organsied as part of the “Free my vote” campaign.

The US has on several occasions asked government to free Dr Besigye, who claims he won the February 18 elections, accusing President Museveni of having grabbed his victory.

In a unanimous ruling at the close of last month the Supreme Court upheld President Museveni’s victory in a presidential election petition in which former prime minister Amama Mbabazi sought to annul the election of the NRM presidential candidate.

According to the Electoral Commission, President Museveni polled 60.7 per cent of the total votes cast compared to Dr Besigye’s 35 per cent.