Faridah N Kulumba
Africa-Press – Uganda. Mr Ofwono Opondo the Uganda government spokesperson while reacting to the US decision said, US had yet to formally inform Uganda of the visa restrictions, adding that the world power has reported to blackmail and sulking because they supported in the elections lost.
The United States announced visa restrictions to Ugandan government officials whose actions they believe interfered with the electoral process which undermined the democracy and respect for human rights, during the January 14, 2021 presidential elections
This followed Antony Blinken the US Secretary of State nominee for Joe Biden’s administration releasing a media statement on Friday 16 April 2021 saying that the government’s actions represent a downward trajectory for democracy and respect for human rights, and opposition candidates arrested, and held illegally without charge as reported in America Africa.
“Today I am announcing visa restrictions on those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in undermining the democratic process in Uganda, including during the country’s January 14 general elections and the campaign period that preceded it,” said Blinken.
The Ugandan electoral commission declared Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa 76 year a winner for his 4th term, with 58 percent of votes which his main opponent, lawmaker and pop star Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi wine rejected saying that the voting was full of malpractices, including ballot staffing, intimidation and falsification of vote tallies.
President Museveni denied claims of vote-rigging and human rights violations saying that the votes had been machine-counted.
On 2 February 2021 Bobi Wine petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the results announced by the electoral commission but he later withdrew the petition saying that the court was not independent and he did not believe that he was going to receive affair judgement.
Who are the sanctioned government officials?
Blinken did not mention the names of the officials sanctioned, but a series of letters from the United States during Trump and Biden Administrations have named some military and police officers among those who participated in Human rights violations.
“Ugandan security forces were responsible for the deaths and injuries of dozens of innocent bystanders and opposition supporters, as well as violence against journalists that occurred before, during and after the elections,” said Blinken’s statement as reported in America Africa.
Why is the US accusing the government of Museven of human rights violations, yet they did not observe the January 2021 elections?
The United States called off its observation of Uganda’s presidential election on January 13, 2021, saying the voting lacked transparency and accountability.
However while Blinken was explaining why they imposed visa restrictions over Ugandan government officials said that those who were able to observe the process noted widespread irregularities before, during and after the election.
He added that limited accreditation for international and local election observers in Uganda has undermined the credibility of elections.
“This electoral process was neither free nor fair. Neither we continue to urge all parties to renounce violence and respect freedoms of expression, assembly and movement,” said Blinken.
The Uganda government reacts
The Ugandan government rejected the allegations and accused the United States of acting on lack of information, lack of knowledge and ignorance.
“We are not going to lose sleep over this,” State minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem told Reuters.
Uganda government spokesman Ofwono Opondo speaking to African Report challenged the US’s decision saying the U.S did not have credible evidence against government officials.
He continued to describe the US accusation as generalized collective guilt and collective punishment.
“If they were honest, they should disclose specifically the names, the incidences and the nature of offences of these officials so that Ugandans takes investigations and appropriate action if these officers indeed were the ones responsible,” said Opondo.