Ugandan president dismisses EU, US criticism over re-election

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has dismissed EU and US criticism of his re-election, telling foreign observers not to lecture him.

Mr. Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, was declared winner on Saturday but Kizza Besigye, his main challenger, who was under house arrest on Sunday, called the election a sham.

Another candidate, Amama Mbabazi, said it was “fundamentally flawed” – one of the reasons the EU observer mission declared the February18 vote as being conducted in an “intimidating” atmosphere.

Chief observer Eduard Kukan said the polls was undermined by a “lack of transparency and independence” at the electoral commission.

Similarly, the US also criticised the handling of the vote and raised concerns about the house arrest of Mr. Besigye, who was in detention for the fourth time in a week, and alleged that his electronic communication had been blocked.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Mr. Museveni on Friday to voice concern over the harassment of opposition figures and the shutdown of social media in Uganda, where Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, have faced outages since Election Day.

In the same vein, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who led a group of Commonwealth observers, said the poll “fell short of meeting some key democratic benchmarks”.

But Mr. Museveni, 71, dismissed the idea that the commission had favoured him and his National Resistance Movement (NRM).

“They are wrong, they are not serious.

“I told those Europeans that I don’t need lectures from anybody.

“Mr John Kerry rang me and I told him not to worry, we’re experts in managing our elections things,” Mr. Museveni told newsmen in his country home in Kiruhura, southwestern Uganda.

Mr. Museveni has presided over strong economic growth but is accused at home and abroad of repression of dissent and failing to tackle rampant corruption.

Critics also say he wants to rule the nation of 37 million people for life, emulating other African leaders who refuse to give up power.

Mr. Museveni last clashed with Western donors in 2014, when Uganda passed a law that imposes harsh penalties on homosexuality.

Several EU countries cut aid, as did the US which also imposed visa restrictions and cancelled a regional military exercise.

In total, more than $100 million in aid was halted or redirected. The development was a significant blow for Uganda that depends on foreign aid for about 20 per cent of its budget.

(Reuters/NAN)


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