The Prompters

KAMPALA/BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | uganda

KAMPALA/BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Berlin has been following Uganda's current wave of protests with a certain amount of concern. Considered a loyal ally of the West, the Ugandan government has been providing sizable troop contingents to defend Somalia's pro-western "government" and is helping to train Somali soldiers. Currently, the government is confronted with a growing protest movement caused, in part, by the dramatic increases in the costs of living. Observers are not excluding a development similar to that in Tunisia, which forced a pro-western government to resign. In official statements, the German foreign ministry is cautiously distancing itself from President Yoweri Museveni, who yesterday was sworn in again as a result of controversial elections. Museveni's plan to punish homosexuality with draconian sanctions, including the death penalty, has also aroused discord. Because of this plan, the German development ministry has frozen millions of Euros destined for Ugandan projects. Observers note that particularly prominent US-American Evangelist Christians have played a key role in establishing this law - some of whom are also quite influential in Germany. Berlin is consistently ignoring the role of these Western ideological prompters for homophobic outrages in Uganda.

Social Protests

The Ugandan protest movement that has continued for weeks is causing a bit of concern in Berlin. Particularly the dramatic increase in the costs of living, affecting not only the poor but also the middle class, has provoked protests, currently taking the form of a "walk to work" campaign. With this campaign, protesters want to show that, because of the rising cost of bus tickets, many people can no longer afford to pay their fare to reach their jobs. The social protest is also expressing the growing dissatisfaction with the government. Yoweri Museveni's presidency has been confirmed with a majority of 68 percent in last February's elections. He has been in office for 25 years. He is being accused of electoral fraud by the opposition. In April, the opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, was arrested during mass anti-government demonstrations four times. The repressive forces have already killed ten demonstrators. Observers are not excluding an escalation and scenarios similar to those in Tunisia, where the President was forced to resign through mass protests.

Providing Troops

Berlin is worried because President Museveni has been a longtime loyal ally of the West. Uganda is representing also EU and USA interests in Somalia. Currently Uganda has dispatched 5,200 soldiers to participate in the African Union's Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to defend the Western installed "government" against various rebel militias. Uganda provides thereby AMISOM's largest troop contingent. The fact that AMISOM is functioning in the interests of Germany and the EU can be seen by the contributions it receives. As of November 2010, Brussels had already contributed 142 million Euros of its development fund. In addition to the compulsory contribution - more than 10 million Euros annually - made in the framework of the UN, Germany provided 2,5 mil. Euros in finances to equip AMISOM's police units and furnished equipment (vehicles and uniforms) as well as training aid (police training in Ghana and Kenya).[1]

Military Training

Kampala is also participating in the military training of the Somali "government's" soldiers. Somali soldiers have been trained in Uganda since 2009 and the EU has been supporting this training since 2010. The German military is also participating in the Uganda-based European Training Mission Somalia (EUTM Somalia), providing classes in "urban warfare." The EUTM-Somalia has already been in the headlines several times. The government rejects allegations that also child soldiers are being trained by the Bundeswehr in Uganda. But A UN report indicates that the Western installed "government" in Mogadishu is recruiting child soldiers. It is also alleged that Somali troops and AMISOM have committed serious war crimes and that Somali "government" soldiers have often deserted to join diverse militias. According to critics, the formation of an army for the "government" in Mogadishu with Ugandan support could enflame the civil war in Somalia even further.

Death Penalty

In spite of President Museveni's loyalty to the West on the issue of Somalia, the German foreign ministry is cautiously distancing itself from him because of the continuation of Uganda’s protest movement. In a recent press release, the German government "strongly condemned Uganda’s violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations."[2] Berlin is seeking to avoid repeating what it did in the case of Tunisia: relying too long on a dictator and be discredited with his eventual overthrow. This is why Berlin is also criticizing the legislative bill, Museveni has been repeatedly pursuing for years. This controversial president seeks to have a draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) passed, which stipulates severe punishment - including the death penalty - for the "crime of homosexuality".

"In the Right Direction"

The German Minister for Development, Dirk Niebel, announced in reaction to the brutal anti-gay bill that his ministry has frozen several million Euros earmarked for projects in Uganda.[3] Berlin, however, is not mentioning the main ideological prompters: US Evangelist Christians. According to Ugandan activists, prominent US Evangelists appeared in 2009 at a conference, attended by many influential personalities including parliamentarians in Kampala, and agitated aggressively against homosexuality. Following the conference, one of them, Scott Lively, met with Ugandan politicians to discuss the possibility of an anti-gay bill. After this meeting, a parliamentarian introduced a draft resolution in the Ugandan parliament, stipulating even the death penalty for certain circumstances of homosexuality.[4] The AHB has provoked world-wide criticism. According to research, the parliamentarian is a member of a US Evangelist network, of which Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and several US senators are also members. The US Evangelist Scott Lively affirmed that the AHB was "a step in the right direction."[5]

Trailblazer

Rick Warren, one of the most prominent US Evangelist pastors has been a long time supporter of the Ugandan AHB promoters. It was he, who had delivered a prayer at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Even though Warren, in the meantime, has distanced himself from the AHB, observers assume that he was one of this project's major trailblazers because of his large influence in Uganda and his homophobic positions.[6] Warren has a big reputation, not only in the USA, but also in the Evangelist movement in Germany. His main work "Purpose-Driven Life" has sold over 200,000 copies in Germany alone.

[1] Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Sevim Dağdelen, Jan van Aken, Annette Groth, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion DIE LINKE; Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/3784, 15.11.2010
[2] Menschenrechtsbeauftragter verurteilt gewaltsames Vorgehen gegen Demonstranten in Uganda; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 11.05.2011
[3] Deutschland stoppt Entwicklungshilfe; www.rp-online.de 11.05.2011
[4] Kapya Kaoma: The U.S. Christian Right and the Attack on Gays in Africa; www.publiceye.org
[5] Sarah Posner: The US Religious Right and the LGBT Crisis In Uganda; www.religiondispatches.org 22.10.2010. Allianz der christlichen Schwulengegner; www.zeit.de 14.12.2009
[6] Kapya Kaoma: The U.S. Christian Right and the Attack on Gays in Africa; www.publiceye.org