Despite Uganda Terror Attack, Obama Must Stand By His Accra Pro-Democracy Speech

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[London Bridge Is Falling]

I was shocked and saddened by the double bombing of an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby club in Kampala, Uganda. Somalia's Al-Shabab militants have claimed credit.

The Ethiopian restaurant is one which I frequently visited while I was on holiday in Uganda in 2003 and I remember that it was a very lively venue--the buzz of the local people and tourists making for an electric atmosphere, like most social venues in Uganda.

This aggression on Uganda brings to bear just how fragile life really is. It is unthinkable that one should go out to watch a World Cup final and not return home ever again, except as a charred body in a wooden box. It could have been me, my brother, my sister, relatives and friends.

While I thank God that my sister Barbara and brother Colin had travelled to Gulu, in the northern part of Uganda, my heart bleeds for the innocents who perished needlessly. My thoughts and prayers are undoubtedly with the families and friends of the brutally murdered. The total has now risen to 74 dead. People who had lives and loved ones, people who had dreams and hope, ordinary people who ended up as body parts among overturned chairs and debris.

What callous disregard for human life.

Aside from some northern and eastern parts of the country, Uganda has enjoyed relative peace and security. Life is normal as can be for the people as long as they remain insignificant and unnoticeable. The Acholi people in the northern part of the country dared to rise up against oppression; they were raped and sodomized, intentionally inflicted with disease and enslaved in concentration camps.

The Baganda people grew restless about repression, and the burial ground of their beloved Buganda Kings, an important religious center for the Royal Family suffered a most heinous attack, mysteriously burned to the ground.

My point is, until there is peace for all in Uganda, we have no business enforcing peace in Somalia. We should clean up our own backyards first.

The bulk of the African Union Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is supplied by Uganda to support the U.S. and UN- backed government against Islamist insurgents. The attack on Ugandan soil is in direct retaliation to the presence of Ugandan soldiers in Somalia, the al-Shabab say.

Tragically, this may be the beginning of more such attacks as threatened in a statement by al-Shabab's Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage: "We thank the Mujahideens who carried out the attack. We are sending a message to Uganda and Burundi, if they do not take out their AMISOM troops from Somalia, blasts will continue and it will happen in Bujumbura too."

Bujumbura is the capital of Burundi. It is innocent civilians who will bear the brunt of this ‘‘war.’’

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni said of the attacks, "People who are watching football are not people who should be targeted. If they want a fight, they should look for soldiers."

I agree.

US President Barack Obama, called the explosions "deplorable and cowardly." Again, I agree.

That being said, I think the support for Museveni by the United States is in stark contradiction to President Obama’s brilliant Accra speech, unless he is unaware of Uganda’s regrettable human rights abuses both at home and in some neighboring countries.

Obama famously declared: "First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments. As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.

"Now, time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through.We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously -- the fact that President Mills' opponents were standing beside him last night to greet me when I came off the plane spoke volumes about Ghana -- victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition in unfair ways. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage, and participating in the political process."

Forgive my ignorance, but does President Obama consider Uganda to be under good democratic governance? Or is this a case of scratch my back and I will scratch yours?

Oh, yes, in Uganda the energy of the people is breaking through indeed--but not in praise of good governance and democracy but rather it is an uprising against repression and oppression. Ugandans want peace. Peace with each other and peace with their neighbors.

Alas, my intense affection for Barack Obama has come to an end. He may redeem himself by standing by his Accra speech. Stand up for the people of Uganda. We have suffered far too long. Stand up for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Stand up for the people of Rwanda. Stand up President Obama.

A poem for the dead:

Your blood on our hands

Our lives diminished by the death of you

Heads bent in grief too much to bear

Our tears won't bring you back

Somewhere trumpets are sounding

Birds are chirping

Angels are singing

Waiting at Heaven's gate

Ascend my brother

Let your journey begin

Ascend my sister

To a pleasant resting place

Farewell, farewell


Allimadi writes for The Black Star News from London

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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