FAROUK KIRUNDA: US Sanctions Move aims to destabilise Great Lakes region

AUTHOR: Faruk Kirunda

Uganda is under siege! The scramble for the heart, soul and body of our nation continues unabated with the US having announced sanctions against as yet unnamed government officials who have been slapped with a visa ban. Their “crimes” are allegedly related to handling of the 2021 general elections and abuse of human rights.

While the sanctions have been announced only recently, there has been a long-running narrative aimed at weakening the Ugandan government. It was only a matter of time before something was found as an excuse and the tool of working for “democracy and human rights” comes in handy.

In instituting the sanctions, the cardinal principles of fairness, mutual respect, non-interference and sovereignty have been violated, and with that, the human rights of the targeted officials.

I have no doubt that the decision on sanctions was procured through the lobbying of Washington “traders on the political stock market” who are bent on conquering Uganda to facilitate the transfer of their business and cultural interests to the capital, Kampala. They are a direct response to the endless lobbying of individuals and organizations who find the NRM government a barrier to their mercantile advances on Ugandan affairs. For example, lawyer Robert Amsterdam has been openly hostile to the Ugandan government and advocating such measures as the Americans have taken. What a coincidence!

Former presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu (Bobi Wine) is on record to have spoken for such sanctions, as well, and it is public knowledge that he always makes his appeals to foreigners who also give him orders on what to say and the next course of action. Unless he is a smart schemer who read the minds of the Americans and preempted their actions in order to lay claim to having support in Washington, all signs are that the sanctions are a reward to him and his backers who have either paid or have promised to pay back if their goals are achieved. There is a deal somewhere and it is over Uganda’s carcass, nothing else. If they can’t win the hearts of Ugandans, then the country would rather grind to a halt or go up in flames.

If indeed the Americans say that their actions target those who interfered with the 2021 elections, then they should start with themselves because now we know who and what they were supporting and soon, we shall show the world how they interfered in Uganda’s electoral processes. The cat is coming out of the bag; the hunter is hunted!

It is also safe to say that there was involvement in attempts to cause a security breakdown during campaigns where there was a lot of incitement of opposition supporters to get them to engage in direct rebellion. This includes the events of November 28, 2020 when riots broke out after Kyagulanyi was arrested over Covid-19 guideline breaches. The spontaneity of the riots shows that there was a strong arm directing the actions and facilitating those involved. It was an attempt not only to overthrow the Ugandan government but to prevent elections from taking place and sending Uganda on the way to become a failed state. All these schemes were thwarted, leaving the perpetrators embarrassed and itching for revenge. They have now pounced, with the intention of sabotaging the formation of a new government and President Yoweri Museveni’s swearing in.

Good enough, the government of Uganda is prepared for anything, backed by Ugandans whose voice determined the outcome of the 2021 elections. Are the Americans suggesting that the elections should not have been determined by Ugandans? Are they going to sanction all Ugandans who voted the way they did? That is what I am saying; all Ugandans are a target if we allow mental enslavement and mind control programs to stand. We must resist the dependence syndrome which makes us feel inadequate in attending to and resolving our issues. Uganda is ours and ours to manage the best way we can. In case of failure to achieve the ideal, it is our responsibility as Ugandans to find remedies. Nobody is going to act in any particular way for fear of being denied a visa. Earning “visa rights” is seldom the motivation for official work here.

If there is a country where human rights and democracy are observed to the letter it is Uganda. I bet that America cannot beat us on a fair index. Ask the black community and communities in countries where the US has meddled in the guise of installing democracy and human rights. It is the opposite in place-authoritarianism, dehumanization of citizens and total breakdown of administration and statehood. Ask the Libyans, Iraqis, Afghans, and Syrians!

Queerly, in some countries neighboring ours, leaders have directly engaged in abuse of human rights but no sanctions have been called on them. Double standards! Do they pay to be exempted? Is Museveni too soft that his government has to be bullied and attacked at any opportunity or he is targeted for being a leading Pan-Africanist? Either way, the scheme is a badly crafted one and can only be disastrously put in action with Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria in mind!

Spearheading endless political divisions is very dangerous and intended to slow our progress. Elections came and ended. Ugandans are one people moving on to the next phase. Attempts to divide us won’t work. This further justifies why Museveni is still needed.

It is a shame that in holding anyone to account, only government officials have been targeted. Was the election an affair involving only one side? Is the opposition exempt from accountability? Is the opposition full of angels to even suggest that they did nothing at all warranting being asked questions? So, what if the opposition wrote the report that was adopted as the basis for the sanctions, didn’t the world see how they attacked, injured, humiliated and killed innocent citizens? Is there no room for justice for non-opposition members? Is Uganda only for opposition? Don’t Ugandan officials have human rights (and responsibilities) to protect? What kind of democracy and human rights enforcer denies “suspects” a hearing before they are judged, condemned and sentenced? This is not the America we know.

What about blatant disregard of measures against Covid-19 and incitement to the public to do the same as was the case with Kyagulanyi? Have the Americans demanded for any answers? Don’t Ugandan laws matter? Should we say that the Americans wanted to reverse Uganda’s success against story Covid-19?

Sanctioning security chiefs and commanders is a direct attack on the Ugandan state because it demoralizes them from doing their job of securing Ugandans. It is an attack on the war on terror of which the US is supposed to be the “chief ally”. Uganda plays an incontestable role in fighting terror, something the Americans are well aware of. Due to the weight of the war on terror, the alliance against the “axis of evil” is one around which Uganda and the US have built a very strong partnership that keeps the world safe. Is the US saying that this partnership has crumbled? Is the US now for terrorism?

An attack on Uganda is betrayal of the Great Lakes as it jeopardizes the general stability of the region. It emboldens the bad elements to do as they wish since we have seen that those antagonizing governments are not held to account; most likely, they are encouraged and aided with tools to work with.

Some of the suspects arrested in security operations in Kampala were actively engaged in activities akin to terrorism; they had assembled an arsenal of improvised armaments and explosive devices like those employed by Al-Shabaab. This evidence is available but I don’t know if American “investigators” bothered to take this into account. And about elections, if the Americans had set predetermined outcomes which didn’t come to reality, which court sat to decide that the results did not meet acceptable standards and that everything was to be blamed on specific individuals who did not deserve to be heard before action was taken on them? Isn’t this injustice, abuse of human rights and hypocrisy of the highest order?

In writing this article, I may be added on the list but that is not a problem. Uganda and Africa are spacious enough for us to live and work with dignity. The inequality and humiliation that our brothers and sisters who live in the US are subjected to is enough to give all of us second thoughts.

The author is a Presidential Assistant in Charge of Media Management. Contact: kirundaf2@gmail.com | 0776980486/0702980486.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of this Pepper.

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