The U.S. government has said it will consider pursuing “concrete options” against those responsible for the crackdown on opposition protests in Uganda following the January presidential election, in which head of state Yoweri Museveni won a sixth term in office amid opposition allegations of fraud.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price has stressed that the elections “were plagued by irregularities and abuses by government security services against opposition candidates and members of civil society” and has “strongly” called for “independent, credible, impartial and thorough” investigations into these “incidents.”
“We will consider a battery of concrete options to hold accountable the members of the security forces responsible for these actions,” said Price, who stressed that Museveni “continues to play a regional role” and “has an important role in some of the U.S. interests” in the region.
In this sense, he recalled that Uganda contributes with troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which supports the government of this country in the fight against the terrorist group Al Shabaab, considered by the United States as the most dangerous in the continent.
Despite this, Price has stated that the United States “can pursue its interests and its values at the same time.” “We are considering a battery of concrete actions to hold accountable those responsible for what we saw in the context of the Ugandan elections, just as we continue to work with Uganda on behalf of some of our mutual interests,” he said.
Price’s remarks came after Uganda’s main opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi, on Monday withdrew his Supreme Court challenge to annul the results of the Jan. 14 presidential election, although he still does not recognize Museveni’s victory and maintains that he was the winner of the election.
Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, stressed that the opposition “withdraws from the courts, but does not opt for violence”, after accusing several Supreme Court judges -including its president, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo– of not being impartial and calling for their recusal.
Bobi Wine, a popular singer and leader of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP), was running as the main rival to Museveni, who has led the country since 1986 and who won a sixth term in office after a series of constitutional amendments to enable him to contest the elections.
The elections were held in a particularly tense context due to the increased repression against the opposition and the death of more than 50 people in November due to the action of the security forces against demonstrators after the arrest of Kyagulanyi during a campaign rally.