Uganda's Very Smelly "Accident"

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Beleaguered U.S.-backed Uganda tyrant Yoweri Museveni has been in the global media lately with worldwide coverage of attempts by lawmakers from his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party to pass a law that makes homosexuality punishable by death.

Many observers believe that in addition to currying favor and largesse from the Christian Right Wing in the U.S. --Pastor Rick Warren was among those who declined to denounce the proposed legislation until he abandoned ship following world outcry-- the proposed law is also intended to discredit and criminalize political opponents including those who aren't gay, by malicious insinuation.

In the run up to the 2001 presidential elections, Museveni hit his chief opponent Dr. Kizza Besigye below the belt claiming he was "suffering from AIDS"--reprehensible remarks from a fraudster who pays PR advisers to promote him as a champion of AIDS victims.,9171,999422,00.html

Ugandans reacted angrily to the outrageous remarks and did the right thing by electing Besigye president. But Museveni held on to power anyway. In 2006, his regime charged Besigye, once Museveni's own personal doctor, with sedition and rape--again he held on to power after another election that Besigye and many Ugandans believed he had lost.

In August this year, Olara Otunnu, another prominent Ugandan who may throw his hat into 2011 presidential race, returned from many years of living abroad. A Sydney Peace Prize recipient and, like U.S. President Barack Obama a fellow Harvard Law School alum, Otunnu's most recent high profile post was as United Nations Under Secretary General for Children in conflict areas. The Museveni regime had once threatened to have him arrested for sedition--in his Sydney lecture he deplored the genocide of Uganda's ethnic Acholis in concentration camps created by the government.

Otunnu stayed in Uganda for a few weeks after his August return and was welcomed by huge crowds. While there, local newspapers reported that the government had a plan to "smear" him as gay and HIV positive. He told AFP that he was neither gay nor HIV positive.

Some observers believe the proposed gay death bill law is meant to demonize, discredit and falsely criminalize people like Otunnu. After all, one can't conduct serious campaigning if one is in court trying to disprove false allegations that they are gay--charges that would carry the death sentence in Museveni's Uganda if the bill were to go through. Going by the logic of the sinister proposed law, a government agent could simply accuse any Museveni opponent of being gay and presumably a sympathetic judge could draw up charges. 

Far fetched? Recall that during the 2006 vote Besigye had to repeatedly interrupt his presidential campaign to "defend" himself against the concocted rape charges. By the time the case was thrown out, Museveni had been sworn in for another presidential term.

Machiavelli would have been no match for this wily and cruel Ugandan.

All this background leads us to the timing of a supposed "accident" yesterday, involving Otunnu and a motorcade belonging to Museveni's presidential guard brigade (PGB).

As it seems now, Museveni may soon have to shelve the heinous proposed gay death sentence bill due to universal global condemnation. What other strategy to pursue?

Ever since the murder of Uganda's renowned clergyman, Archbishop Janani Luwum, by the late dictator Idi Amin auto "accidents" have been justifiably viewed with a great deal of suspicion by Ugandans. Of course Amin was a bit crude, and the Luwum "accident" was difficult for him to explain off when bullet marks were found on the Archbishop--it was later revealed that Amin personally shot Luwum.

After spending most of October and November winding up his affairs in New York, Otunnu again returned to Uganda this month. Suddenly, yesterday comes report of him narrowly escaping death from an auto "accident."

A Uganda government spokesperson told The Daily Monitor, a leading Uganda newspaper that the soldiers didn't even know Otunnu was an occupant in the car. The spokesperson said it was an accident caused when Otunnu's driver lost control after he tried to overtake the motorcade traveling from Kampala from the city of Gulu yesterday morning-- Museveni was not in the motorcade having conveniently flown by helicopter.

Otunnu's reported account to AFP contradict's the government's version. According to what Otunnu told AFP, his driver had signaled that he wanted to drive ahead of the slow-moving presidential guard brigade (PGB) convoy. The PGB, reportedly more than 10,000 strong and better equipped than the national army is Museveni's private military and is commanded by his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who was trained at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"It was really a miracle no one was hurt," Otunnu told the news agency. "We were coming from behind, and they clearly made way for us to pass. Then, the third vehicle in the convoy came out into the middle of the road, where we were passing."

Otunnu's car ended up slamming into mango trees off the road, he told AFP, after what the agency reported as "a series of precarious maneuvers." The guards then surrounded his entourage with guns trained, Otunnu told AFP.

"They were calling out my name," the agency quoted him saying, which would contradict the government's position that the occupants of the car were unknown. "They seem to have known who I was, even though I had not yet left the vehicle."

Moreover, according to AFP's account, Otunnu said the soldiers "refused to identify themselves, removed the number plates from their vehicles and removed the name tags from their uniforms...." The soldiers also reportedly confiscated a video camera from a reporter traveling with Otunnu.

Do these sound like the actions of professional soldiers or of a secretive death squad?

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