Museveni Almost Invisible During the US- Africa Leaders’ Summit

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Museveni -- the Ugandan general was isolated at U.S.-Africa Summit while Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete and Rwanda's Paul Kagame were invited on a panel

[Op-Ed]

President Yoweri Museveni was isolated and alone through much of the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Why? Because the theme of the Summit was “Investing in the Next Generation,” and as we know he has done nothing to invest in the next generation. The theme of the Summit  represented recognition of the fact that real leaders have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure their actions pave the way for the freedom, dignity, and prosperity of their citizens, particularly for young people.

Museveni’s actions have done nothing but to infringe on the freedom, dignity and prosperity of Ugandans. Many Ugandans are fleeing home because of lack of growth and opportunity in Uganda.

Growth and opportunity in Uganda is only enjoyed by Museveni’s closest allies and sycophants. Real leaders in the summit recognized that an active, empowered citizenry can contribute most effectively to the prosperity and wellbeing of their nations, and discussed the role of civil society, volunteerism, transparency and public service.

This however is not something Museveni has adhered to- in fact, just the opposite. He has curtailed civil society space through enacting laws like the Public Order Management Act (which requires police approval for a meeting of three or more Ugandans) and by arresting and intimidating those bold enough to speak out.

This law alone has taken away the voice of civil society. Joe Biden the vice president of USA and a friend of Africa, clearly stated that the civil society is the lifeline of democracy. Museveni has killed the lifeline of democracy in Uganda and has done so to continue his own dictatorial rule.

Museveni tried to fool some by having the Constitutional Court annul the Anti-homosexuality Act right before the summit. He was in fact up to his old dishonest tricks by hoping that some would see this action as  a ray of hope and a step toward restoration of full human rights for all Ugandans. His true agenda is just the opposite and have now come to light as he works immediately with the NRM ruling party Parliamentary Caucus to bring back the old discriminatory law.

His actions stand in marked contrast to the entire tone of the summit which repeatedly highlighted the importance of inclusive growth and protection of basic human rights that benefit all citizens and communities.

Museveni was truly the odd man out at the summit ignored by the other leaders, devoid of one on one meetings, sitting alone as discussion after discussion focused the importance of full human rights. Even President Obama pointed out that some countries have troubling restrictions on universal rights. He was speaking to our own Dictator Museveni.

It is well known that with the passage of restrictive laws like the Public Order Management Act in Uganda, there is limited progress on respect for universal rights in Uganda. President Obama used the Summit as an opportunity to remind Museveni of the importance of rule of law, open and accountable institutions, strong civil societies, and protection of human rights for all citizens and all communities.

Museveni was clearly very uncomfortable and this explained his almost hidden presence during the summit. He did not want to be constantly reminded that nations that uphold these rights and principles would ultimately be more prosperous and more economically successful. He knew when experts spoke that the time of the time of “African strongman dictator” was over they were speaking to him.

President Obama pointed out that good governance is one of the best inoculators against terrorist infiltration in a society in which everybody feels as if they have a stake in the existing order, and they feel that their grievances can be resolved through political means rather than through violence. This explains Museveni’s actions in being afraid to meet with the diaspora living in Washington DC.

He is worried for his image if not his safety because he knows that he has destroyed our country for his own enrichment. While the other Presidents of the East African community met their citizens of the diaspora living in Washington DC, Museveni was nowhere to be seen. He was in hiding and did not even try to meet anyone because he fears the diaspora as he fears the truth.

He was the invisible man.Dr. Athanasios Magimbi is Chairman, Uganda Democratic Federation

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