U.S. DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY SECURES ONGOING USE OF UGANDAN TROOPS
"The Ugandan dictator should not see this visit by the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary as an endorsement of his regime. I think the U.S. is just interested in its own interest."
KPFA Evening News Anchor Anthony Fest: At the end of July, the Pentagon Press Secretary reported that Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter was visiting Uganda to meet with senior government and military leaders to affirm the growing security partnership between the U.S. and Uganda, particularly in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Ugandan American Milton Allimadi, Editor of the New York City based Black Star News about the Ugandan military’s longstanding service to U.S. interests.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Milton Allimadi, isn’t this headline, “Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter affirms growing partnership between U.S. and Uganda,” a bit of an understatement, given the extent of U.S./Ugandan military partnership since 1986, and U.S. use of Ugandan proxy soldiers in so many African countries, and in Iraq, during those years?
Milton Allimadi: Yes, definitely it is. We know the U.S. has had extensive involvement going back over the period that you just described. But I believe that so long as there's a huge vacuum on the African continent, in a situation where the African union cannot marshal its own independent force and say 'U.S., just stay out of our region. We're going to take care of our own business,' the U.S. is always going to enter and occupy that vacuum.
KPFA: Do you think the U.S. policymakers are OK with domestic repression described in the 2009 Human Rights Watch Report, Open Secret, Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda, and all the current repression of basic rights including the right to public assembly?
Milton Allimadi: The Ugandan dictator should not see this visit by the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary as an endorsement of his regime. I think the U.S. is just interested in its own interest. I think they're pretty tired of dealing with Yoweri Museveni now. I believe they don't think he can hold it together anymore. When you have one of your top generals, like General David Sejusa, who was the coordinator of military intelligence and security in Uganda, defecting and fleeing to London, and then going on all these major media outlets . . .the BBC, Voice of America . . . and saying that Museveni is a dictator who needs to be removed by any means necessary, and saying that in fact the Constitution of Uganda permits the citizens to remove a president like Yoweri Museveni, that to me is a clear sign that he's on his way out and the United States is aware of that as well.
KPFA: What if a member of the opposition, or even a less domestically repressive member of Museveni’s own party were to become the president? What would that mean to the U.S. reliance on Ugandan soldiers to protect its interests on the continent?
Milton Allimadi: Well, I think that if you have another president in Uganda, who actually follows the Ugandan Constitution, obviously any arrangement would have to be approved by the Ugandan government. Just like the U.S. Congress here is involved in any major military U.S. engagement around the world. So in Uganda, in fact, if you have a president who respects the Constitution, any arrangement would have to be worked out. Parliament, the representatives of the people of Uganda, would have to approve of it, and that would be a substantial difference.
KPFA: And that was Ugandan American Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi on Deputy Secretary Director Ash Carter’s visit to Kampala to discuss the longstanding U.S. military partnership with Uganda.