The US Senate Committee Chairperson on Foreign Relations Robert Menendez’ has demanded that President Joe Biden is asking him to withdraw an invitation to President Museveni ahead of the 2022 US-Africa Leders’ meeting over alleged violation of human rights in Uganda.
In a March 28, 2022 letter, Menendez wants Museveni’s son Commander of the Land Forces in the UPDF, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, approved by the US for his alleged participation in the torture of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaijja.
He also claims that Museveni has always been dependent on torture, violence, and illegal detention in order to punish his critics and stamp down the conflict.
He then mentions the 2021 general elections in which he claims that the opposition candidate ‘Robert Kyagulanyi Ssetamu‘ was tortured and illegally faced detention with other party members and leaders.
Menendez also quotes Kakwenza’s Twitter disclosures. The novelist told that he was tortured by the Commander of Land Forces, Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
“Lt Gen Muhoozi, according to Mr Rukirabashaijja, personally participated in at least one interactive session.” “However, no one has been held blamed for these crimes or for multiple examples of other security force abuses, like the 2016 Kasese massacre, in which more than 100 men, women, and children were killed, or the 2020 killing of 54 civilians protesting Mr. Kyagulanyi’s arrest during his election campaign,” Menendez writes.
The UPDF Land Forces Commander recently stated he is doesn’t know who Kakwenza is.
Moreover, Menendez also argues that President Museveni has twice changed the constitution before so that he could remain in power, restricted democratic processes, turned random to rampant corruption, and subjected civil society and political leaders to illegal detention, violence, and torture with impunity.
“Despite this troubling track record, Uganda remains one of the top US foreign aid and security assistance recipients. However, the US has issued statements and expressions of concern after human rights violations come to light; such statements are inadequate. Personally targeted sanctions would have a greater impact,” Menendez added.
He says that recent boycotts against Gen Kale Kayihura and Maj Gen Abel Kandiho came too late and could not necessarily impact.
Menendez now wants the US to sanction all Ugandan officials involved in human rights violations, bar army officers from any form of training with the US army, and sanction those in charge of detention facilities where Ugandans are illegally held.
He has recently, in December 2021, aimed boycotts against Uganda over human rights violations.
Menendez followed that Uganda had been an essential, if not critical, security and counter-terrorism partner to the US for more than ten years, playing a significant role in the African Union’s Mission to Somalia and hosting more than 1.4 million refugees.
However, he stated that Uganda is now going through tough times, and long-standing efforts to advance its democracy are now in peril. The US administration cannot continue to keep silent without noticing the importance of its ties.
“Mr. President, if the results of the elections in Uganda do not show the people’s will, I will be calling for the Biden government to re-evaluate our relationship with the Museveni management. Uganda’s size and importance as a security partner should not control the United States from speaking out in favor of democracy and taking action to support those Ugandans battling for democratic freedoms,” he said in a statement for the Senate record on safeguarding democracy in Uganda.
Uganda has recently blamed the West, particularly the US government, for interfering in its affairs.