WILMINGTON, Del. — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement condemning the Ugandan government’s use of violence and intimidation in the run-up to the January 14 general election and pressing President Yoweri Museveni and Ugandan authorities to take steps to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of the Ugandan people. Senator Coons encourages a review of U.S. security assistance to Uganda in light of the brutal crackdown and democratic backsliding.
“As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, I condemn the violent and oppressive tactics employed by Ugandan authorities in the lead up to the January 14 general elections. These acts of intimidation have, for months, eroded and undermined the credibility of Uganda’s electoral process, and I urge the government to reverse course. This presidential campaign has been marked by the worst political violence in Uganda in decades. Ugandan authorities have demonstrated blatant disregard for human rights and constitutional freedoms through frequent attacks on political leaders, activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens.
“For months, using COVID-19 restrictions as a pretext, security forces have repeatedly detained activists on spurious charges and used deadly force against protesters, with at least 60 Ugandans killed in election-related violence, hundreds injured, and more than 800 arrested so far in the run-up to the vote. Leading opposition candidate Bobi Wine was recently detained for the third time in two months, along with many other prominent activists including Patrick Amuriat and Nicholas Opiyo.
“I call on President Museveni and the Government of Uganda to respect the rights and freedoms of the Ugandan people afforded by the country’s constitution and to take affirmative steps to protect them. I urge the government to release all political prisoners and cease the harassment of opposition leaders, their supporters, and the media, and refrain from further violence in the days before and after election day.
“International donors, including the United States, should reassess security assistance and other financial support to Uganda. Any review should take into account events on or around the election that have undermined democracy and violated human rights and the rule of law.
“Some assert the United States has forfeited the moral authority to defend democracy and human rights abroad following the violent incursion of the U.S. Capitol Building. The horrifying events of January 6 show that even the most well-established democracies are at risk from would-be authoritarians seeking to extend their rule. Even as our democracy is tested at home, America must continue to strive to live up to our highest values and ideals. In the face of obstacles, our work to defend democracy at home and abroad becomes that much more important.”