Tagged: Andrew Mwenda, civil society, civil society groups, democratic accountability, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dictators, DRC, Fred Bauma, genocide, Goma, Great Lakes region., human rights, margaret muhanga, margret Muhanga, opportunities, President Kabila, President Kagame’s Rwanda, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda, Ugandan, Ugandan citizens., Yoweri Museveni, Yves Makwambala
March 23, 2016 at 7:30 pm #32636Ambassador Samantha PowerU.S. Permanent Representative to the United NationsU.S. Mission to the United NationsNew York CityMarch 21, 2016
Thank you, Foreign Minister Chikoti, for being here today and for hosting this timely debate on an incredibly important set of issues. Let me also thank the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Commissioner Chergui, Special Envoy Djinnit, and Mr. Pillai of the World Bank, for your remarks and for your determined work across the Great Lakes region.
The Private Sector Investment Conference co-hosted by Special Envoy Djinnit’s office in Kinshasa last month spoke to the economic and security gains made across the region over the last decade. This progress is tenuous, fragile, and there is still a long way to go – but the trajectory over recent years has clearly been positive.
I would like to use my remarks to underscore the inextricable connection between democratic accountability, human rights, and the rule of law on the one hand, and economic progress and lasting stability and peace on the other. On the very same day that the investment conference began, a court in the Democratic Republic of Congo ruled on the case of six young activists – five men and a woman – who had been charged with attempting to incite civil disobedience. They had been arrested eight days earlier at a private home in Goma, at 4:30 in the morning, as they prepared banners for a general strike to protest potential election delays. One of the banners read: “In 2016, we won the Cup” – referring to the African Nations soccer championship – “we can also win democracy.” That was the banner. They were convicted and sentenced to two years in jail, a term reduced on appeal to six months.
The DRC is not the only country in the region where civil society is threatened, or where democratic processes are being deliberately undermined. This, unfortunately, has been the accelerating trend in recent months – evident at the top, where leaders make increasingly blatant power grabs to remain in office; and on the streets, where their governments close media outlets, arrest opposition members, intimidate civil society groups, and otherwise squeeze the political space available for competing views.
This widening disregard for democratic processes threatens to undermine the political, security, and developmental progress achieved over the last two decades, and it imperils the progress still to come. It defies the ability of citizens to freely choose their leaders and hold them accountable. It drives them into the streets or out of the country. It threatens to plunge communities back into the cycle of poverty and violence from which many are only now beginning to emerge.
Let me speak briefly to the situation in four countries where this trend is most pronounced, and where there is still time to change course.
The economic achievements of President Kagame’s Rwanda are well known, and rightly celebrated. Per capita income has doubled since the year 2000. Rwanda’s advances on the Human Development Index are greater than any other country in the world over the last 25 years. It has become a leader in international peacekeeping – in numbers as well as in performance, with its forces admired for their bravery and their commitment to civilian protection.
When one reflects on the horrors of the genocide that killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu 22 years ago next month, one sees the epic scale of the achievements by President Kagame and by the Rwandan people. The results on the ground for Rwandans are remarkable. Unfortunately, despite Rwanda’s progress on economic rights, on women’s rights – on so many development axes – its record on protecting and promoting civil and political rights is less impressive. The United States remains deeply committed to our partnership with Rwanda, but the continued absence of political space – the inability of individuals and journalists to discuss political affairs or report on issues of public concern – poses a serious risk to Rwanda’s future stability. Rwanda can achieve lasting peace and prosperity through a government centered on the principle of democratic accountability, not centered on any one single individual.
The same applies in Uganda. Uganda is a critical contributor to peace and security, especially through its longtime contribution to the AU force in Somalia. It is also a generous host to more than 500,000 refugees, providing the right to work and access to social services to refugees just like to Ugandan citizens. However, when it comes to democratic accountability, the run-up and aftermath to last month’s elections shows real issues. The government and its security forces detained opposition figures without legal justification, harassed their supporters, and intimidated the media. It passed legislation restricting the operations of NGOs, banning them from acting against the “interests of Uganda.” President Museveni’s actions contravene the rule of law and jeopardize Uganda’s democratic progress, threatening Uganda’s future stability and prosperity.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Kabila appears to be considering a similar path. His country remains one of the poorest in the world, but it has begun to see gains in democracy, stability, and economic growth; in 2014 its economy grew by 9.5 percent – 9.5 percent. Yet as President Kabila’s term nears its end, this fragile progress hangs in the balance. Continued development depends on further advances against armed groups and the extension of state authority – and, of course, it depends on free and fair presidential elections in November.
There is no credible reason that the DRC election would not occur on schedule. The national election commission said in January that it would need 18 months to update voter rolls; but election experts assure us that this can be done in six months. As the representative of a country that continues to debate its own electoral processes, I recognize that elections are not always perfect, and certainly not always easy, but fidelity to the constitution – not to mention long-term stability – means that they must occur on time.
Not only must ballots be cast, but individuals must be allowed to campaign for their preferred candidates and express their opinions freely. There is no excuse for the harassment and detention of peaceful activists and opposition leaders in the DRC, like the six activists I mentioned earlier, or the eighteen other members of the pro-democracy youth movement LUCHA who were detained last Tuesday and held for four days. Their offense was peacefully protesting the Supreme Court’s refusal to release two activists, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, who were arrested a year ago and still have yet to receive a trial. It should go without saying that this is not the path to lasting stability. Fred, Yves, the Goma six, and all the other young people who have done nothing more than seek a better future for their country, should be released.
The government’s attempt to limit its cooperation with the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, in order to force a reduction of troops is also concerning. Let us be clear: this Council should not allow peacekeeping missions to become pawns in political games. When blue helmets are deployed, they must be allowed to fulfill their mandate – in the DRC or anyplace else.
We need look no further than Burundi to see the dangers of pursuing personal power over the people’s interests. Burundi’s economy grew steadily for a decade, but contracted by an estimated 7 percent last year. President Nkurunziza’s decision to stay in office in defiance of the Arusha Accords and his crackdown on political opposition have swiftly undone the country’s progress of recent years. This is evident in the widespread reports of sexual violence, the more than 400 people who have been killed, the 250,000-plus who have fled the country, and the even-more challenging economic times that unfortunately lie ahead.
What remains to be seen is whether President Nkurunziza will take decisive action to correct course. Some of his government’s recent commitments are encouraging – but none have yet been matched by meaningful action. Of the 2,000 prisoners he pledged to free, just 158 have been released to date – and only 47 of those were political prisoners. Two of the five radio stations shuttered have been allowed to reopen – but that’s just two of the five – and one of those allowed to reopen is pro-government. We will welcome and support constructive steps when we see them, but rhetoric is not enough.
Let me conclude. The United States has historically been a strong partner of all four of these countries, as it has been for others in the region. These partnerships are not tied to any particular individual leader, but to the people in these countries. This has been evident in our longstanding aid programs, our efforts to encourage stability, and our commitment to institution building. It is evident too in our strong support for the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Trade in Minerals, which we hope will enable supply chain solutions that encourage the legitimate trade of natural resources.
All four of the leaders I’ve mentioned today have led their countries through extraordinarily difficult times. But the choices they make now will determine whether their countries’ gains are sustained, and how they themselves will be remembered decades from now. President Obama told an audience in Ethiopia last year, “Sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, well, I’m the only person who can hold this nation together. If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”
These nations are ready: if they are given the opportunities to fully participate in democratic processes, to hold their leaders accountable, to be subjected to and to benefit from the rule of law, they will not merely survive, they will prosper. Thank you.March 23, 2016 at 7:50 pm #32642
It is as if the US is saying the DICTATOR is good and not good. The peoples democracy has been sacrificed at the US Dictator friendship alter. While the people suffer and the dictator remains a special friend of the US, the people don’t matter in the eyes of the dictator mafia. The Dictator is free to do as he pleases with the people. Don’t get me wrong we all love America and the west. but not at the expense of democracy. It is serious injustice to the people for one man……just one man to continue to mete out his reign of terror on the people and hide behind his friendship with the west. Lord have mercy on us….the people are tired beyond words!!!!March 23, 2016 at 7:51 pm #32643
I keep telling people M7 actions show clearly hes going,dont get suprised when he doesnt return on one of his foreign trips.When US starts monitoring u closely it shows they have fully understood ur strenght & weaknesses.Let him free besigye,tahilil square will emerge,he kills afew people & u will see NATO boots on the ground.oneday is enough to over run him.cant waitMarch 23, 2016 at 7:52 pm #32644
BETRAYAL IN THE CITY.
AMAMA MBABAZI’S LAWYER WAS BEHIND THE LAW FIRM BREAK-INS
REGIME PAID HIM A HEFTY REWARD.
Amama Mbabazi’s lawyer Muwema (see pic.) sold out to M7,after he was given 900 million in a deal brokered by Jim Muhwezi ,and thereafter jumped out of the petition case, locked his office before stage-managing the raids at the twio law firms, and steal the signed affidavits and other evidence on petition. So Muwema was part of the evidence theft from his own and Mohammed chambers.
Muwema ran off with 157 affidavits that were signed and then claimed police took everything, thereafter he passed on info to the state agents who started arresting and harassing witnesses, and the remaining Amama lawyers started all over again to get the new affidavits. .
Muwema first lied that his landlord had closed him for failure to pay rent. He connived with the estate manager and they closed his office for 3 days, but the Amama people managed to get the landlord and the offices were opened and they started doing new affidavits in Muhammad Mbabazi’s office,which was also broken into by the regime people who were in collusion with Muwema and Jim Muhwezi. .
This high level betrayal dents the image of the legal fraternity in Uganda,and the people of Uganda are the ultimate victims of these schemes.March 23, 2016 at 7:52 pm #32645
HIHIHIHI –LAUGHABLE HOW A WHOLE ADVOCATE WRITES TO FACEBOOK, ASKING FOR THE INTERNET PROTOCOL ADDRESS OF TVO.SURELY? A WHOLE COUNSEL WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW THE WORLD OPERATES?. THANK GOD HE NEVER REPRESENTED THE PETITIONER, FOR HIS LEGAL COMPETENCE IS HIGHLY SUSPECT.I KNOW MUWEMA’S NEWFOUND FRIENDS IN THE REGIME,ARE USING HIM HOPING THEY CAN ACHIEVE THE IMPOSSIBLE.-March 23, 2016 at 7:53 pm #32646
LOOKING FOR TVO IS A FUTILE EXERCISE
The regime has intensified the hunt for TVO,and this hunt began with ISO,then ESO,CMI, counter intelligence in state house,SFC and now police CIID.I can assure all these men and women that they will live to grow grey hair and pass away,before they land their dirty hands on TVO.I advise them to direct those resources to other ventures.March 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm #32647March 23, 2016 at 7:57 pm #32648
Jean-Pierre Bemba was fortunate enough to have an extremely privileged childhood in one of the world’s poorest countries but this has not saved him from ending up on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.
Mr Bemba spent his youth between the Belgian and Congolese capitals – Brussels and Kinshasa – and the small, remote town of Gbadolite in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, known as Versailles in the Jungle.
Gbadolite was the home and last refuge of the late Congolese leader Mobutu Sese Seko.
Mr Bemba’s father, the successful businessman Bemba Saolona, was very close to the former dictator.
But for him business was truly the first and only allegiance.
When Laurent Kabila’s troops overthrew Mobutu and marched into Kinshasa in May 1997, Saolona was briefly appointed a finance minister in the new regime.
Father and son, however, have not always seen eye to eye.
Mr Bemba, who at a very young age lost his mother and has had difficult relationships with his father and stepmothers, explicitly criticised his father’s acquaintance with Laurent Kabila in his book The Choice of Freedom.
A great admirer of controversial French businessman Bernard Tapie and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the young Bemba sought other father figures.
Perhaps his greatest influence was Mobutu himself, who employed him at the age of 30 as his personal assistant in the early 1990s.
Another person central to his roundabout journey to becoming DR Congo’s vice-president was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
As the Congolese government battled Rwanda-backed rebel groups in the east, Mr Museveni helped Mr Bemba open up a new front in 1998.
Uganda supplied troops, equipment and training when Mr Bemba launched his rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC).
In only a few months, the MLC managed to capture northern DR Congo. Its stronghold was Equateur province, home to Gbadolite.
With Mr Kabila now fighting several rebel groups, he eventually agreed to share power in a 2003 peace deal.
As a rebel leader, Mr Bemba became one of four vice-presidents.
By that time, his troops had also crossed the border from Equateur, to the Central African Republic.
Then CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse asked him to help put down a coup attempt in 2002.
It was the ensuing reign of terror, allegedly involving looting, civilian killings and mass rape of hundreds of women by MLC fighters, which led the ICC to file charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against him as the group’s leader.
His lawyers say the fighters were no longer under his command after they crossed the border.
A characteristic that Mr Bemba shares with his father is the knack of making money.
He holds an MBA from a prestigious business school in Brussels and kept his economic activities running throughout the war, looking after family-owned coffee plantations and wood factories.
Former allies claim most of Mr Bemba’s fortune comes from gifts from African leaders such as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
Whatever the source, by the end of the war, the rebel-turned-politician had accrued enough wealth to buy a helicopter and several planes, which he sometimes likes to pilot himself. He also invested in DR Congo’s aviation business.
After he laid down his arms in 2003, Mr Bemba was sworn in back home as a vice-president in charge of finance in the interim administration.
He became increasingly influential, gaining the support of a number of political figures in DR Congo, and stood for the country’s presidency in 2006 – against Laurent Kabila’s son, Joseph.
But he was ultimately deserted by many allies who blamed his “oversized ego” for withdrawing their support.
He managed to take the incumbent to a second round, polling especially well in western DR Congo where many see the Swahili-speaking Kabilas as foreigners.
He claimed the run-off was rigged and was accused of refusing to disarm his militia and of unleashing violence in Kinshasa.
Mr Bemba has always denied the charges.
He was then accused of treason after his bodyguards and the army clashed in Kinshasa in March 2007.
He fled to his childhood retreat of Belgium but this time it was no haven.
He was arrested in May 2008 and then transferred to The Hague.March 23, 2016 at 7:58 pm #32649
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday congratulated the leader of the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) Jean Pierre Bemba following his election as Prime Minister designate of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to a press release issued in Kampala by the President’s Press Secretary, Mary Karooro Okurutu, Bemba held an audience with Museveni earlier in the day at his Nakasero State House in the Ugandan capital.
Without giving details, the release said Bemba briefed Museveni on the outcome of the eight-week inter Congolese dialogue that ended recently in Sun City, South Africa.
Uganda backs the MLC while Rwanda supports the other main DRC rebel group, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), which refused to sign the Sun City accord, which envisages to retain President Joseph Kabila as transitional head of state.
Kabila, who is leading a DRC government delegation, also held talks with Museveni in Kampala Tuesday.23 april 2002 21:30:00March 23, 2016 at 8:02 pm #32650
Some people have said that the act of dictator Museveni taking every new elected parliament members of the NRM, to the so called Luweero bushes trek,is an act of intimidation, to cow them in the coming years,BUT some people in the know say there is witchcraft involved and a reknown Museveni’s personal witchdoctor, is the designer behind the act.
The government of Botswana is preparing a formal request to Kenya to arrest and handover visiting Uganda President Yoweri Museveni to them to face war crime charges in Uganda which include opposition persecution & gross human rights violations.
Botswana is the only country in Africa that doesn’t recognize Museveni’s ‘victory’ which President Ian Khama described as the biggest fraud in history of mankind since that snake tricked Adam and Eve. In a statement from the presidency to the army general council leaked to our news desk, the president says …. “I hereby order our border guards to be on the lookout in case that criminal sneaks into the country on his many wastrel trips to South Africa.
As the commander in chief I also order the army to intercept or bring down any aircraft within our airspace carrying that demagogue who has continued to twist democracy and deceive popular will of Ugandans in this 21st century. Museveni may escape today but we will sure catch him like a squirrel and bring him to justice. Already our prisons department has prepared a special jail where we will keep him during trial, same jail is where he will spend his next 30years paying for his crimes.
Our attorney general will write a letter to Kenya in the next 72 hours to the effect of cooperating in immediate arrest of Museveni when he visits the country, failure to do so will degrade our relations and as usual Brookside milk products from Kenya will not be welcomed here again—we will ban them for good. Uhuru can’t keep aiding that despot Museveni in defeating Uganda’s popular will and perpetuating electoral theft, no this is a new Africa. He must arrest Museveni and hand him over to us. More economic sanctions will follow on both Kenya and Uganda” These rattling will surely trigger diplomatic standoff between Kampala, Nairobi and Gaborone. It also await to be seen if Nairobi will heed Botswana’s request.
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