Message to Obama: Ugandans Are Focused On Ejecting Gen. Museveni

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[Black Star News Editorial]

The timing of the Obama Administration's announcement that it had sent 100 armed combat ready soldiers --which normally is a precursor to additional force deployments -- is suspect and actually amounts to blatant interference in Uganda's internal politics.

While the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has committed atrocities, it's worst abuses are in the past and the decimated force is now hiding somewhere in Central Africa, several hundred miles away from Uganda. Ugandans are at the moment focused on ejecting the dictator who presides over the country's rapid decline. Diversions won't succeed; the LRA's Joseph Kony will eventually face justice.

It's clear that there must be other motives for the White House's sudden interest in "protecting" people in Central Africa from the LRA. Many Ugandans believe this reasoning is similar to the claims by Western nations that the intervention in Libya was for "protecting" Libyan civilians against massacres by Muammar al-Quathafi, when in fact it was a ruse for regime change. NATO's bombings likely killed more Libyan civilians in the conflict than al-Quathafi's soldiers--not to mention the massacres of Black Libyans by the NATO-backed "rebels."

In Uganda, the individual who is actually conducting abuses against civilians at the moment is the U.S.-backed dictator, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, not the LRA leader Kony. Most Ugandans if polled would prefer the removal of Museveni first; they would want Kony to be second on the list.  Yes, Gen. Museveni, on behalf of the White House, has shipped over 8,000 Uganda troops to prop the weak and fictitious Somali government in Mogadishu. If the trade off is that the U.S. will aid and abet Museveni's murderous reign, this is unacceptable to Ugandans. Americans, including the patriots now engaged in Occupy Wall Street protests, must oppose this cynical display.

Gen. Museveni has played the Kony card to extend his reign for 26 years; the charade must stop. The White House knows better.

Gen. Museveni has been in power for over a quarter century. Now his back is against the wall; since stealing the February presidential election. The Black Star News published the "results" leaked by a regime insider even before the votes were "counted."

As Ugandans continue to protest against the dictator, seeking his removal and an end to rampant corruption, now's not the time for this White House to be extending political capital by further associating his regime with American troops.

What's more, Gen. Museveni's army was found liable of committing crimes against humanity --massacres of civilians, mass rapes and looting of natural resources-- in Congo by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2005 which awarded Congo $10 billion in compensation, and the same army is reportedly being investigated on war crimes allegations in Uganda as well.

According to The Wall Street Journal, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) began its own criminal investigation of the alleged crimes by Museveni's army, the Ugandan president himself asked then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to block the probe; Annan said he had no such powers. So far, the ICC's prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has obliged.

Why would the U.S. continue supporting such a regime against the wishes and aspirations of most Ugandans? Why would the White House want U.S. soldiers to pair arm-in-arm with Museveni's.

Most recently, the Museveni soldiers have been used to violently crush popular protests; Ugandans have been out on the streets to demonstrate against rapid economic slide. Gen. Museveni had ordered the printing of billions of shillings, the country's local currency, to buy votes in February, thereby fueling hyperinflation.

The probable rightful winner of the election, Dr. Kizza Besigye, was later shot in the hand and also beaten unconscious by Gen. Museveni's security agents.

Now, Gen. Museveni's government has been shaken to its foundation by allegations, first revealed by WikiLeaks in the form of a memo by the U.S. ambassador there, Jerry Lanier, that top Museveni ministers accepted bribes by oil companies, seeking favorable terms. The allegations were amplified last week when a Uganda lawmaker displayed in Parliament documents he alleged showed payments of up to $25 million in bribes to Museveni's officials.

Gen. Museveni himself has denied allegations that he too was bribed.

The companies at the center of the bribe allegations are Italy's ENI and U.K.-based Tullow Oil.

The Ugandan lawmaker, Gerald Karuhanga, who aired the accusations inside parliament last week says he's already received death threats. Parliament has asked that three Museveni ministers resign within 10 days. One of the officials, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa has already resigned in connection to charges that he also embezzled funds when Uganda hosted the Commonwealth conference.

The other two officials asked to step aside by parliament are Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, and former Energy minister, who is now internal affairs minister, Hillary Onek. All the officials claim that documents shown by the lawmaker in parliament last week were "forgeries."

As Uganda's Parliament, which is gaining its voice and for the first time asserting itself against Gen. Museveni's tyranny, and corruption, it's preposterous that the White House would choose this moment to bolster its military relationship with the discredited regime.

Corruption is all pervasive under the Museveni regime, as ambassador Lanier noted in his cable to the State Department leaked by Wikileaks.

Rather than providing Museveni with a public relations opportunity, the U.S. should be distancing itself from the regime and allow the oil bribery scandal to be aggressively investigated by Uganda's parliament.

By siding with the Museveni regime, the U.S. aids and abets tyranny and embezzlement by government officials and undermines Uganda's parliament.

The U.S. is on the wrong side of history with respect to Uganda.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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