Milton Allimadi, Black Star News publisher at the United Nations protest. Photo: Mike Muganga
A broad coalition of Pan-African, and African organizations have joined Ugandan Diaspora organizations in denouncing the massacre of civilians by state security agencies during the recently concluded Jan. 14, 2021 presidential election.
The coalition held a demonstration outside the United Nations—at 47th street and 1st Avenue—on Jan. 23, 2021 to register their protest.
The coalition is calling upon the Biden administration and its European partners (U.K. and EU) to impose targeted sanctions on military and political actors who were responsible for the bloodshed in Uganda. The coalition is demanding that the Biden administration not recognize the results of the presidential election as announced by incumbent Gen. Yoweri Museveni’s hand-picked Election “Commission.”
The head of the African Union (AU) observer team, Samuel Azuu Fonkam, told AL Jazeera that he “could not say whether the election had been free and fair,” which is remarkable, coming from an organization that generally offers glowing endorsements to elections in Africa. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy, has issued a statement calling the election “fundamentally flawed.” The U.S., provides Uganda with about $1 billion in annual financial and military assistance. The Biden administration must suspend all military aid, joint military exercises and training, as well as non-essential assistance until the election impasse is resolved. American taxpayers must not finance dictatorship in Uganda as The Washington Post pointed out in an editorial.
On Jan. 16 Uganda’s Election “Commission” (EC) announced that the country’s dictator of 35 years Gen. Yoweri Museveni had “won” with 59%. The main presidential challenger, Bobi Wine, who has declared that he is the actual winner, was awarded 34% of the vote.
Preliminary totals from 4,412 out of 34,714 polling stations—13%—posted by voters on Uvote, an independent App created to ensure that the official figures would not be manipulated, showed Bobi Wine leading Gen. Museveni by 1,302,752 votes to 450,721, or by 72% to 25%.
Bobi Wine and his National Unity Platform (NUP) say they have evidence, including video recordings, to prove massive cheating, such as ballot stuffing, soldiers handing pre-ticked ballots to voters, or forcing candidates to vote for Gen. Museveni.
As part of Gen. Museveni’s well-coordinated scheme to engineer “victory” for himself, he shut down the entire country’s Internet connection and social media access on Jan. 12, two days before the election. This meant independent poll watchers could not transmit information, including the true and accurate figures from the declaration forms signed by agents of each of the presidential candidates. On the other hand, it also means that the Electoral Commission (EC) itself was affected by the Internet shutdown. This supports claims that the figures “awarded” to the candidates, giving Gen. Museveni “victory,” were cooked up numbers.
Bobi Wine has called for an international forensic audit which he says will confirm that he won the Ugandan presidential election.
Bobi Wine and his wife Barbie, together with an 18-month old niece, have been under house arrest in their home in Kampala since Jan. 15, the day after the election, with about 500 soldiers, and 10 armored vehicles, surrounding their compound and the couple is running out of food. The soldiers have prevented them from leaving the premise and no one is allowed to enter. When a Ugandan member of Parliament, Francis Zaake, tried to visit Bobi Wine to deliver food, he was severely beaten by soldiers and he’s now hospitalized in critical condition. A helicopter flies over their home every 30 minutes, and a drone hovers around the compound. When U.S. ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown tried visiting Bobi Wine, she too was blocked by the military at the gate.
In reality, the entire electoral process in Uganda was undermined long before the Jan. 14 vote due to regime violence throughout the entire period. Here are some instances:
1. On Nov. 18, after Bobi Wine was arrested while campaigning, protests erupted throughout the country. State security agents under Gen. Museveni’s orders massacred at least 54 unarmed civilians with live rounds. Bobi Wine has provided extensive documentation of the abuses in a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The complaint identifies people that have “affirmatively incited violence,” including: Gen. Museveni, Gen. Elly Tumwine the security minister, and Col. Felix Obucha.
2. Despite strong condemnation of the killings by the international community, including a statement by the State Department that the U.S. would not hesitate to consider “serious” consequences, violent attacks continued, including against journalists covering Bobi Wine’s campaign—they were beaten on numerous occasions, and also fired at by the armed forces. Museveni’s police commander, Martin Okoth Ochola, said the reporters were being beaten “for their own good”—to dissuade them from traveling to dangerous locations. Ochola is a good candidate for an ICC investigation.
3. As part of the regime’s agenda to control the election outcome, thousands of domestic election observers, and international ones, were denied accreditation. The Election Commission rejected 75% of the accreditation request made by the American embassy in Uganda, so U.S. Ambassador Brown pulled out of the monitoring process.
This was Gen. Museveni’s intention all along—so that his regime could rig the election with impunity.
4. The Daily Monitor, Uganda’s leading independent newspaper published an article on Jan. 16, raising doubt about the validity of the Election “Commission’s” data. The paper noted that by Friday, Gen. Museveni had been awarded a total of 4,470,000 votes. Yet, the paper noted, when additional votes supposedly arrived from the polling centers and candidates awarded more votes, Museveni’s new total was 4,340,134. In other words, instead of increasing, Gen. Museveni’s total raw count declined by 129,866. This should be of no surprise if, as Bobi Wine alleges, the numbers were indeed being cooked up. When other media, including Black Star News, wrote about the smoking gun evidence in The Daily Monitor article, the story was deleted from the newspaper’s website. The newspaper has a history of deleting articles that expose corruption, under pressure from the regime.
5. Since the end of the election period, on Jan. 15, soldiers have been arresting Bobi Wine’s associates and staff, and many are now in hiding. There are reports that polling agents have been arrested and that some have been killed. The regime is trying to get a hold of the polling agents’ cell phones in order to destroy the recorded images of the election declaration forms that reflect the actual vote totals from polling stations.
For all of the above reasons, we demand that the Biden administration:
1. Join the call for the immediate and unconditional release of Bobi Wine, Barbie, and the child from house arrest.
2. Not recognize the “results” of the Jan. 14, 2021 election which has already been rejected as “fundamentally flawed” by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.
3. Suspend military, and non-essential aid to the Museveni regime.
4. Support Bobi Wine’s call for an international forensic audit of the Jan. 14 election.
5. Support the demand made by Sen. Bob Menendez, and Rep. Eliot Engel in the 116th Congress, that the U.S. initiate targeted sanctions against military officers and political leaders involved in planning, sanctioning, or carrying out human rights abuses. These sanctions must include, but not be limited to, applying the global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the U.S. government to sanction individuals it sees as human rights offenders by freezing their assets, and banning them from entering the United States.
6. Block any financing from the World Bank and IMF for projects in Uganda until Constitutional rule is restored, to prevent millions of dollars from being embezzled. A $300 million loan from the World Bank to combat the Covid-19 pandemic was reportedly diverted to Uganda’s repressive military.
This Statement Is Endorsed By The Following Organizations:
-Black Star News
-Pan-African Unity Dialogue (PAUD)
-United African Congress (UAC)
-Friends Of The Congo
-African Great Lakes Action Network
These Ugandans demonstrated on Friday making the U.N. protests a two-day affair.
Photo Kabuye Boston.