Dr Daniel Kawuma, the National Unity Platform (NUP) Diaspora Team Leader, has expressed concern over the association between NUP leader Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and his US Promoter Senator Bob Menendez, who was recently charged with corruption-related offences.
Senator Menendez, who has close ties to Kyagulanyi, is facing allegations of accepting bribes from three New Jersey businessmen.
These charges could potentially complicate Democrats’ efforts to maintain their slim majority in the US Senate during the upcoming elections.
In response to the charges, Menendez has temporarily stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that Menendez deserves due process in the legal proceedings.
According to the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan, Menendez allegedly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars, including cash, gold bars, mortgage payments, compensation for a fictitious job, and a luxury vehicle, in exchange for using his position and influence to benefit the government of Egypt and interfere with law enforcement investigations involving the businessmen.
This is not the first time Menendez has faced corruption charges. The justice department previously accused him of conspiracy bribery and honest service fraud. Menendez, who has been in the Senate since 2006, is up for re-election in 2024.
Hudu Hussien, the Masaka City Resident City Commissioner, criticised Menendez’s involvement with Kyagulanyi, referring to him as one of Kyagulanyi’s paymasters.
Hussien questioned the trustworthiness of a person who is financially supported by external forces to advance a Western political agenda.
He expressed concerns about Uganda becoming a colony of the West and stated that Kyagulanyi could never become a president or minister in Uganda unless he aligned himself with the winning team and implemented reforms.
Dr. Kawuma, however, emphasized that Menendez and other members of the US Congress speak out against human rights violations in Uganda not specifically for Kyagulanyi but for the oppressed Ugandan people.
Menendez, as the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been vocal in condemning human rights violations and the lack of free and fair elections in Uganda.
Dr Kawuma clarified that Menendez’s statements were made in his capacity as a senator and not as a promoter of Kyagulanyi.
He highlighted the importance of US Congress overseeing appropriations to ensure that the financial aid provided to Uganda is not misused to oppress its citizens.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plays a crucial role in shaping US foreign policy and safeguarding national security.
It has jurisdiction over legislation related to international relations, foreign aid programs, and setting policy guidelines.
Dr. Kawuma emphasised that Menendez was fulfilling his responsibility by advocating for the rights and well-being of the Ugandan people and safeguarding US interests.
He criticised the misleading headlines in the media, which he believes reflect the compromised state of journalism in Uganda.
In 2022, Menendez petitioned President Joe Biden to take meaningful actions against human rights abuses in Uganda, including torture and corruption.
Menendez called for the imposition of sanctions on senior Ugandan officials involved in corruption or gross human rights violations.
He also demanded transparency regarding detention facilities used for illegal detention and torture, as well as accountability for past incidents such as the 2016 Kasese killings and the November 2020 riots.
Dr. Kawuma reiterated the importance of distinguishing between Menendez’s role as a senator and his association with Kyagulanyi.
He emphasised that Menendez’s actions were driven by his duty to protect the rights of Ugandans and uphold US interests on the global stage.