Ugandans Ask U.K. To Pull Rug From Under Dictator

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[Global: Africa]

Expatriate Ugandans have increased demands on Uganda’s foreign backers to withdraw support of dictator Yoweri Museveni’s regime following the bloody suppression of protests last week in which his security forces reported killed as many as 22 civilians in the capital of the East African country.

Ugandans who held a protest in London yesterday cited U.S. President Barack Obama’s Accra speech that the days of dictators and the “big man” in Africa are over. The U.K. is one of Uganda’s biggest foreign backers, despite widespread human rights abuses documented by Human Rights Watch, including systemic torture of opposition members. 

Uganda nationals delivered a petition denouncing the U.K.’s support to Museveni, on Monday, at the Commonwealth Office and at 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British prime minister.

Local Uganda newspaper report that at least 22 people were gunned down in protests there last week on Thursday and Friday. Demonstrations had erupted in Kampala, Uganda’s capital after the government used armed Military Police and Police forces to block the Buganda Kingdom’s Premier who was preparing the King’s visit to Kayunga, a region within Buganda. 

Buganda is a hereditary monarchy within the Republic of Uganda and has a king, or “Kabaka,” Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, who had himself planned to preside over a youth Day’s celebration in Kayunga, on Saturday.

“We wanted to notify the donor community so that they can monitor the delicate situation and Museveni’s intentions to incite unnecessary [inter-ethnic] conflicts,” Moses Luzinda, one of the organizers, who is Secretary of Buganda Community, in London, told a reporter.  “We have seen such scenes and inflammatory statements similar to those made by President resulting into genocide and persecuting his dissenters.”

He points out as “inflammatory” Museveni’s accusations that a “foreign” country had provided resources to the Kabaka’s supporters to undermine his regime.

Museveni’s critics say this was a prelude to an even harsher crackdown. In recent years the Kabaka ---many of his supporters believed he was under house arrest after the crackdown started—has been demanding for a federal form of government, which Museveni has rejected outright.

 “In light of the above our Committee decided to notify International bodies,” including “the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown bearing in mind that the Museveni’s government gets funding from the,” the U.K. Luzinda added.

The petition, which was also delivered to Prime Minister Brown’s official office at 10 Downing Street also read in part,  “We are very much worried that the current environment created by the NRM Government is reminiscent of what transpired in Kenya two years ago when riots of a frustrated and suppressed people took to the streets to demonstrate their grievances.”

The International community is now pressing for those behind the Kenya atrocities to be tried at the Hague by the International Criminal Court (ICC); Ugandans are making similar demands for those behind the bloodshed last week.

The petition lists major concerns about the Museveni regime, accusing it of “abuse of human rights and constitutional rights,” and “excessive use of military force in suppressing peaceful demonstration.”

Uganda’s High Commissioner to the U.K., Joan Rwabyomere, declined to comment.

Miwambo reports for The Black Star News from London.

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