Tuesday, October 20, 2009





The government yesterday moved to deny a report in an international newsletter indicating that President Museveni was snubbed by US President Barack Obama on a recent trip to New York.

The Indian Ocean Newsletter, popular for its usual controversial stories on African strongmen, also added in its October 3 report, that it was the first time the Ugandan leader had suffered such a diplomatic slight, a report dismissed by Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Ambassador James Mugume.

“President Museveni would have liked to have a face-to-face meeting with his American counterpart Barack Obama during the recent United Nations General Assembly,” the report said.

“But he had to be content with meeting Obama merely as part of a group of African leaders, to whom the American President made a speech on good governance.”

But Mr Mugume said yesterday that the Ugandan diplomats had been told well in advance that Mr Obama would be having no bi-lateral meetings with foreign dignitaries.

False allegations
“That is not correct. Right from the beginning we knew there were no bi-laterals. Because of that, the usual requests [for bilateral meetings] were not made,” Mr Mugume, who travelled to New York with the Ugandan contingent, said.

Mr Museveni met with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnny Carson, who is a former ambassador to Uganda, and with Susan Rice, the US envoy to the United Nations.

“True, Museveni has by no means become persona non grata in the White House, but he did not appreciate the fact that Obama could not find time for a face-to-face meeting with him, as he had done with the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga,” reports the Paris-based publication.
Founded in 1981, The Indian Ocean Newsletter, available in print and online, investigates “the political and economic news of African countries of the Indian Ocean region”.

Mr Museveni remains an asset to the US, for his contribution to peace-keeping efforts in Somalia and for his potentially strategic role in ending conflicts in the Great Lakes region.

His help, for example, may be needed in an upcoming referendum on secession in Southern Sudan. Still, the Obama administration has indicated that it will deal cautiously with African leaders who do not do enough to strengthen democracy in their countries, and has also condemned the culture of lobbyists that thrived under George W. Bush.
Uganda is a client of the Whitaker Group, a strategic consulting firm that says it exists to “facilitate trade and capital inflows to Africa”.

Lobby firm
The firm actively lobbies the US government on behalf of Kampala.
Ms Jendayi Frazer, who used to be Mr Bush’s top diplomat for Africa, wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently that “Mr Obama needs to spend more time meeting and engaging African leaders to address the continent’s challenges”.

Ms Jendayi is now with the Whitaker Group, with which the Ministry of Finance signed a contract for “International Presidential Advisory Services in the political, social and economic fields”.
The contract, signed in March 2008 and worth Shs2 billion, expires in December 2010.

Outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City, demonstrators carried accusatory placards, with some saying there was “grand genocide” going on in Uganda.

More demonstrations had been planned in Boston, Massachusetts, where there is a large population of Ugandans.

Mr Museveni’s visit to New York, where he addressed the 64th UN General Assembly on September 23, came shortly after his administration prevented Buganda’s Kabaka Ronald Mutebi from visiting Kayunga, fuelling the chaos that left at least 27 people dead.