By Faridah N Kulumba
Africa-Press – Uganda. On Thursday 4th August 2022, the President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni received the United States Ambassador to United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield at State House Entebbe. Ms. Thomas-Greenfield’s trip comes on the heels of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Uganda on an official visit, the third stop on an African tour to strengthen ties with the continent and seek support against Western pressure over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
What was in the meeting
The meeting between Greenfield and President Museveni was meant to strengthen the relationships between the U.S and Uganda. According to the statement which was released by the United States Mission to the United Nations, Ms. Greenfield and Mr. Museveni discussed a broad range of global issues and regional security challenges. They also discussed the importance of the U.S supporting democratic institutions in Uganda.
Russia-Ukraine war- Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said the most important issue discussed with President Museveni was the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine on the availability of food and on oil prices. One liter of fuel in Uganda currently costs USD2. The meeting also touched on a broad range of issues including the security situation in the Great lakes region, democratic institutions, and press freedom.
Ambassador- Thomas-Greenfield expressed appreciation for Uganda’s long-standing open-door policy and hospitality for refugees, its leadership on global health security, and its commitment to economic development.
Lavrov’s tour to Uganda and accusations
On 25th July 2022, Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov had a meeting with President Museveni in Uganda where he accused the U.S and European Union countries of driving up food prices.
Adding fuel to the fire
President Museveni told Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield that if the U.S really want to help the third world why don’t they leave them out of the sanctions in a conflict where the third world is not participating. According to President Museveni, the sanctions which were imposed on Russia by the U.S is attributed to high costs of fuel which is affecting the prices of commodities in Uganda and Africa at large due to the high cost of transport.
Uganda is one of several countries in East Africa that is suffering from food shortages following a severe drought. Rising inflation fueled by the war in Ukraine has further stressed food supplies in the region. The prices of food are high and this is blamed on the high cost of fuel which affects the transport of food to the market, thus driving prices up. When the fuel prices went up food prices also went up.
Who to believe?
When Mr. Lavrov wars defending his country’s war with Ukraine he refused to call it ‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a War’. Lavrov believes that although the situation in Ukraine has somehow affected food markets, but not due to the Russian special operation, but rather due to the absolute inadequate reaction of the West. which announced sanctions.
However, according to Ms. Thomas-Greenfield Russia is there to defend what they know they have to defend. She added that Russia’s actions to invade Ukraine are hurting Africans, but they are trying to defend their actions by putting the blame on Western countries for the impact that their actions are having on the African continent. U.S challenged Russia to show how they are trying to help Africans to address the food insecurity issue, not whom they are blaming for the food insecurity.
No sanctions on agricultural products
The U.S clarified that although there are sanctions imposed on Russia, there are no sanctions on any agricultural products coming out of Russia. Russia can import their agricultural products and countries can buy Russianagricultural products including fertilizers and wheat.
U.S warning to Africa
The U.S warned African countries that are dealing with Russia, especially on goods covered by sanctions. Even though Uganda and any other African country have the right to choose their friends and their enemies, the US says that if a country decides to engage with Russia, where there are sanctions, then they are breaking those sanctions. The U.S warned that those countries dealing with Russia will be dealt with accordingly.
The Republic of Uganda and the United States diplomatic relations were established in 1962, the year Uganda got its independence from colonial rule. In the post-independence period, Uganda endured despotism and near economic collapse. The human rights abuses of several Ugandan governments have stained U.S relations with Uganda. For the last 36 years since President Museveni came into power, Uganda has experienced relative political stability and economic growth, but also significant human rights, governance, and democracy deficits. Uganda also faces other challenges as well, including explosive population growth and power infrastructure constraints.
Partners- Uganda has been partnering with the U.S in promoting stability in the Horn and East/Central Africa and combating terror, particularly through its contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia. Last year the government of Uganda agreed to temporarily host 2000 refugees from Afghanistan who have fled their country after the Taliban militants took power at U.S’s request.
Assistance– The U.S provides significant health and development assistance to Uganda, with an assistance budget exceeding USD950 million per year. The U,s also provides anti-retroviral treatment for more than 1.2 million Uganda with AIDs/HIV.
Economic funding- The U.S is helping the Ugandan government to boost economic growth and agricultural productivity. This is done by improving educational outcomes and supporting democratic governance through inclusive accountable institutions.
Trade– The U.S has committed to signing trade and investment framework agreements with the East African Community and with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Uganda is a member of both regional organizations
The U.S export to Uganda include machinery, optical and medical instruments, wheat, and aircraft. Whereas U.S imports from Uganda include coffee, cocoa, base, metals, and fish.
During Thomas-Greenfield’s trip to Uganda, she announced USD20 million in development assistance to Uganda. The fund, which is subjected to U.S Congressional approval, is aimed at helping smallholder farmers adopt improved agricultural practices. This is meant to increase productivity, reduce post-harvest losses and mitigate the impacts of growing food security, which she aid have been exacerbated by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.