Don’t Back Uganda Dictator

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“We believe that if he does not step aside Uganda's election in March 2006 will be bloody and violent as he tries to repress popular opposition to his regime,� the letter said. “We hope that in your meetings with President Museveni you will not send a signal that Museveni has the support of the US government to mismanage Donor funds and to rule for life,� Mugisha advised Bush. Before he arrived in the US, Museveni sent dozens of his cronies in government to the US and Europe on a serious propaganda trip to polish the dirty image of his government.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni this week came to the US to lobby for American government’s support despite the recent constitutional change he ushered, lifting presidential term limits, so he can rule for life.

Museveni came to power after waging a six-year guerilla war from 1981-1986 and has since ruled Ugandan under his one party system that he calls the “Movement System.�

Recently in Uganda, Museveni bribed Ugandan parliamentarians an equivalent of about $2,800 each so that they vote to remove the constitutional term limit.

On September 15, 2005, Anne Mugisha who until recently was the US-based Coordinator for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), one of Uganda’s principle opposition groups, wrote a letter to president Bush asking him not to host Museveni at the White House. “Dear President Bush, we have learnt that you will be hosting President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at the White House during his current visit to the United States. Unfortunately the photo opportunities that you give President Museveni in the United States are interpreted by Ugandans to mean that you support his bid to become life president of the Republic of Uganda,� the letter said.

Mugisha reminded Bush that Uganda has never seen any peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another and President Museveni has laid the groundwork for the possibility of more violence in our country. Mugisha told Bush in the letter that Museveni's last bastion for international recognition has been his personal claim for the success of Uganda's HIV/AIDS policies. Yet even that success has today become a source of shame for his regime as millions of dollars meant to assist thousands of pregnant women and children who are victims of HIV/AIDS were embezzled under the supervision of his Cabinet Ministers.

“We believe that if he does not step aside Uganda's election in March 2006 will be bloody and violent as he tries to repress popular opposition to his regime,� the letter said. “We hope that in your meetings with President Museveni you will not send a signal that Museveni has the support of the US government to mismanage Donor funds and to rule for life,� Mugisha advised Bush.

Before he arrived in the US, Museveni sent dozens of his cronies in government to the US and Europe on a serious propaganda trip to polish the dirty image of his government. For most Ugandans in the Diaspora, the move by Museveni has just confirmed his desperate yearning to remain in power. Museveni is spending millions of dollars with American and British Public Relations companies to flood the global media with “good news� about Uganda.

Sleeping in the same bed with American and British media made it possible for Museveni to hide his bad human rights records in northern Uganda where he is incarcerating over 1. 2 millions innocent Ugandans of Acholi descent. PR onslaught has also enabled Museveni to cover up his political oppression including the arrest, murder and intimidation of opponents. Americans and people around the world always wonder and shake their heads in disbelief on hearing about political repression in Uganda - especially the 20-year continuing genocide in northern Uganda.

It is the hope of many Ugandans those donor nations like the US start to mount pressure on Museveni to step down at the end of his current term in office.

P. Okema Otika writes for The Black Star News on African Affairs. For interviews and African-related news tips, please contact him via email at p.okema@blackstarnews.com For more reports please click on “subscribe� or call (212) 481-7745 to order the newsstand edition of The Black Star News the world’s favorite Pan African news weekly.

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