Uganda Alleges Foreign Meddling Amid Call for Cut in U.S. Aid

(Bloomberg) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni took aim at alleged foreign interference in his country’s politics and railed against the media in his first official address since sporadic protests over the arrest of a pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker.

Museveni, who’s ruled since 1986, accused unidentified foreign governments of funding non-governmental organizations that assist the East African nation’s opposition. In his state of the nation address late Sunday, he also declared the need for “discipline and balance” in the media, which he said mostly reported in a “mendacious manner.”

“Uganda is on the ascent; nobody will bring it down, no matter how hard they try,” Museveni said. “We have very powerful internal forces that will combine to defeat the primitive fascists backed by external parasitic elements.”

Museveni’s address came the week after Robert Kyagulanyi, an opposition politician who’s also known by his stage name Bobi Wine, arrived in the U.S. for medical treatment for injuries he said were sustained during torture. Kyagulanyi and four other opposition lawmakers were arrested in northwestern Uganda in mid-August after protesters allegedly stoned a motorcade carrying Museveni. They were later charged with treason, spurring further demonstrations.

American Ally

Kyagulanyi’s international lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, has called for the U.S. to review its military assistance to Uganda because of the country’s human rights record. Uganda is a key American ally in the region and the major contributor to the African Union mission against Islamist militants in Somalia.

Uganda will “organizationally and technically” counter the “sabotage” including by the “racist foreign media,” Museveni said, without giving details. The 74-year-old, who’s one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders, is expected to seek re-election in 2021 after lawmakers removed an age limit for presidential candidates.

Museveni also ordered the mobilization of 24,000 reserves of units allied to the police for Kampala and the neighboring Wakiso district, citing a rise in urban crime. On Saturday a senior policeman, Muhammad Kirumira, was shot dead by assassins riding a motorcycle, police said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.