The Ugandan government has scoffed at the US for imposing sanctions on officials accused of human rights violations during the just concluded 2021 general election.
In a statement released on Friday, the US government secretary of State, Antony John Blinken announced visa restrictions “on those believed to be responsible for or complicit in undermining the democratic processes in Uganda, including the country’s January,14 general election and the campaign period that preceded it.”
However, speaking to NBS television on phone, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem said whereas it is unfortunate for the US to impose restrictions, government can’t lose sleep over the same.
“It is unfortunate that the US is punishing individuals in Uganda wrongly without having real proof beyond doubt that they are the causers of those allegations. Those allegations were responded to by the government of Uganda and we expected the US government and others to have respected our response,” Oryem said.
According to the junior Foreign Affairs Minister, since the US government is not on ground to ascertain what exactly transpired, it would have been wise for them to respect a response from their Ugandan counterparts but also engage them directly on such matters, other than slapping sanctions.
“..but their decisions are based on newspaper reportings and pressure from individuals, pressure groups, and lobbyists which is very unfortunate. We are not moved, shaken but remain focused on fulfilling the mandate given to us by the people of Uganda. We will continue executing our manifesto accordingly without losing sleep over that matter.”
Oryem said the best way to punish anyone suspected to have participated in the said human rights violations would have been after investigations and hearing from the accused before coming up with a punishment.
“I don’t think those officers sanctioned are dying to go to the US. There should have been direct engagement between the two governments and not because of pressure from individual pressure groups and lobbyists.”
The November 18 and 19 protests after the arrest of National Unity Platform presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine saw over 50 people killed, others injured whereas hundreds were later arrested in the resultant crackdown on the masterminds of the deadly protest.
There was also a crackdown especially by security forces and other government agencies on several civil society organizations and opposition players, mostly Kyagulanyi and his National Unity Platform supporters.
Following the January 14 polls, several NUP supporters have gone missing before government later admitted that these had been arrested by security organs.
According to the US government security organs were largely responsible for human violations and the crackdown on opposition candidates, especially Kyagulanyi.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa earlier this week told the UN Security Council members that no one had been abducted by security agencies as had been reported but rather arrested for engaging in criminal activities.
“…anyone suspected of wrongdoing in Uganda will be arrested, investigated and subjected to due process of the law,” Kutesa told the UN.
President Museveni earlier this year insisted that no one is missing but had rather been arrested by security agencies.
“Therefore, the talk of disappearance should be ignored because it can’t happen under the NRM. Even if a mistake is made it will be addressed and answered. There is nothing we do and hide,” he said.
“I was hearing in the papers that there is a stampede on the issue of disappearance. Every Ugandan under NRM will be accounted for.”
The development is the latest in the fallout between the West and Museveni’s government.
Whereas the West accuses the Ugandan government of human rights violations and clamping down on opposition politicians, the West is accused of interfering in the affairs of a sovereign country.