Ugandan Govt Objects to Latest US Sanctions Against Speaker Among, Other Top Officials

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The Ugandan government has responded and objected to the latest US sanctions imposed against the speaker of parliament Annet Annita Among and other officials.

On Thursday this week, the US State Department placed travel and financial sanctions on Among and her spouse Moses Magogo for significant corruption tied to her leadership position.

Others sanctioned were ministers Amos Lugolobi and his spouse, and former Karamoja ministers; Agnes Nandutu and Mary Goretti Kitutu and her spouse for allegedly misusing public resources and diverting materials from Uganda’s neediest communities. The sanctions also target Lt Gen Peter Elwelu for his role in clashes between Ugandan security forces and a local militant group that resulted in the deaths of over 100 people.

In response, Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Oryem Okello said the US government’s action is targeting Among.

“My belief is that this is an insult and undermines our judicial system,” Okello said.

“The sanctions are unjust. They are punitive,” he said. “They are bullish because they know that we cannot do anything against it. And it’s just deliberate to punish the speaker for her role and leadership to fight LBGTQ and homosexuality in Uganda.”

He argued that all the minister-sanctioned are currently facing Ugandan courts of law, which have yet to find a rule on the cases.

The US State Department said it stands with Ugandans advocating for democratic principles, a government that delivers for all its citizens and accountability for actions committed by those who abuse their positions through corruption and gross violations of human rights. Ugandan political analyst Mary Anne Nanfuka said that those people targeted by the sanctions are not acting on their own and that sanctions never work as a deterrent.

“I see that these Western countries want to pander to their electorate,” Nanfuka said.

“They know very well that they need the government to cooperate with them in certain areas. So, once push comes to shove, they will let it pass. Yes, it’s a gesture, but no, we are still not impressed,” she said.

Chris Obore, the head of public affairs in the Ugandan parliament, said the corruption allegations are political and vendetta-driven, otherwise they would have targeted the entire Ugandan cabinet.

The State Department specifically mentioned a giveaway of iron roofing sheets that were meant for a poor community but were instead shared by top government members among themselves.

“It is a sign of their latent anger against the speaker for presiding over the anti-homosexuality law,” Obore said. “It is clear that the UK, US, and Canada have been putting pressure when that law was being debated here. Because it is not about iron sheets. How did the speaker personally benefit from those iron sheets when public schools that were roofed were there?”

Okello said Uganda will engage US government officials and get to the bottom of how the State Department decided to approve the sanctions.

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