President Museveni was on Friday tasked by members of UK’s House of Lords to explain the circumstances under which chaos broke out in Arua over two months ago and its aftermath.
On August 13 during the climax of the Arua municipality campaigns, chaos erupted that saw the presidential convoy stoned.
Security would later swing into action arresting 33 people including Members of Parliament who were later charged with treason for trying to harm the president.
Meanwhile, a number of the suspects including Kyadondo East’s Robert Kyagulanyi turned up in court limping whereas others had multiple wounds that were allegedly inflicted on them when they were tortured by security agencies.
On Friday, while speaking to the House of Lords on trade and business, President Museveni was asked to explain the event in Arua on the fateful day and the aftermath.
Lord Valentine Cecil who is also the Chairman of the Eastern Africa Association which represents the business interests of its members in Eastern Africa, said he was concerned with reports of unrest in Kampala and Arua and subsequent security reaction to the incidents that attracted bad publicity for the country.
In response, Museveni said the incident in Arua was an exaggeration and that the indisciplined people who were involved are before court.
“The matter is in court and I can’t comment much because it will offend the law. They are accused of vote rigging, violence against people who are not their supporters. They even stoned my vehicle. I don’t know whether this is part of democracy,”Museveni told the British investors.
“Let us wait for the court process to determine that. In terms of state capacity, it is not a coincidence that Uganda is an island of peace. Uganda is hosting over a million refugees they know what peace is. I would like to advise Western Media and leaders who are too eager to see problems in Africa but so slow to see its progress describing that as self-deceit. Progress on the ground will continue,” he said.
Museveni wondered why the media wanted to report about only Arua leaving out the 600MW hydropower dam that he commissioned the same day, one of the biggest projects in the region.
“Your spectacles only see the negative. This is an exaggeration and it is wrong. You should see the entirety of the spectrum. Negativity will not stop our country from progressing,” he said.
The President said African economies are growing fast, describing the continent as the next candidate for entering the gates of the affluent.
Woos British investors
Museveni also asked British investors to tap into the big market for products that Africa has to offer to investors’ goods.
He said that because the investors have the skills, capital and knowledge while the African continent needs jobs and industries to expand the spending power, it would be a win- win situation for both parties.
Responding to concerns about Chinese funded infrastructure projects, the president said the Chinese are doing great on the continent despite a few issues that can be managed.
“I don’t speak Chinese, I speak English,but if English does not bring factories what do we do,” he wondered, before citing various projects that are supported by China through soft loans including the Karuma Hydro power dam, Isimba Dam, the ceramics factory and the phosphates factory under implementation.
“We are negotiating the railways project. This coupled with electricity will bring the cost of doing business down. We had huge deposits of phosphates for a long time and tried to hog it around for the West but they were not interested until the Chinese came in,” he said
He also called upon the business community especially those in the pharmaceuticals to exploit the manufacture of pharmaceutical grade starch and sugar in Uganda.
Lord Popat commended Museveni for honouring the invitation to address the House of Lords on trade and business adding that he was the first president to do so.
He said while Uganda is only 56 years old and Britain is over 900 years old both countries are similar in some ways and open for business.