Biden Administration: Don’t Recognize Gen. Museveni’s Rigged Ugandan Elections

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President Joe Biden’s administration and its European partners (U.K. and EU) must not recognize the results as announced by Gen. Yoweri Museveni's hand-picked Election "Commission" of the recently concluded presidential election in Uganda described by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy, as “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 EC itself is hand-picked by the candidate and incumbent himself, Gen. Museveni.

The main Challenger,  Bobi Wine, is the actual winner of the election. He was awarded 34% of the vote by the Museveni hand-picked “Commission.” Museveni had rejected a recommendation by the European Union (EU) that an independent Election Commission be created. This was one of the dozens of recommendations the EU made after its team observed the 2016 elections. As a result, the EU did not send a team for the 2021 vote.

Bobi Wine and his National Unity Platform (NUP) says they have evidence, including video recordings, to prove massive cheating, such as ballot stuffing, and soldiers handing pre-ticked ballots to people, many of whom voted under duress.

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 means that the Electoral Commission (EC) was also affected by the Internet shutdown—this confirms that the figures “awarded” to the candidates, including Gen. Museveni by the EC could not have come from the declaration forms, and were cooked up numbers. Bobi Wine has called for an international forensic audit which he says will confirm his victory in the Ugandan presidential election.

Bobi Wine and his wife Barbie are currently under house arrest in their home in Kampala with about 500 soldiers, and 10 armored vehicles, surrounding their compound and the regime has been starving them. The couple has run 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. 

We demand that the Ugandan regime release Bobi and Barbie Wine immediately, and unconditionally.

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. 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 provided extensive documentation of the abuses in a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bobi Wine’s ICC complaint identifies people that have “affirmatively incited violence” as: Gen. Museveni, Gen. Elly Tumwine (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 journalist 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 some 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 Natalie E. 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. More anecdotal evidence indicate that the numbers were cooked up. 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. Many people believe part of the reason why the regime shut down the Internet was to create time to confiscate and destroy all the images of the declaration forms independently photographed.

For all of the above reasons, we demand that the Biden administration:

1. Suspend military aid to the Museveni regime and non-essential aid.

2. Not recognize the “results” of the Jan. 14, 2021 election which has already been rejected as “fundamentally flawed.”

3. Support Bobi Wine’s call for an international forensic audit.

4. Join the call for an immediate end to Bobi and Barbie Wine’s house arrest.

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, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the United States.

6. Block any other financing from the World Bank and IMF until Constitutional rule is restored to prevent millions of dollars from being embezzled or diverted for military repression. A $300 million loan from the World Bank to combat the Covid-19 pandemic was reportedly diverted to Uganda’s repressive military.