President Yoweri Museveni has accused international players of repeatedly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries including his Uganda.
In a warning against foreign interference during his four-hour long state of the nation address on Sunday night, Museveni claimed some unnamed foreign countries were determined to influence Uganda's politics by channeling financial assistance to the opposition through civil society organizations (CSOs).
Museveni noted that NGOs funded by foreign governments, on the African continent give money to opposition players as well as advise and lie on their behalf.
"These foreigners may think that Africans are weak and foolish," Museveni said.
According to Museveni, external forces cannot claim to have more knowledge and solutions to challenges affecting countries such as Uganda, saying this would lead to mistakes as has already been made in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Cambodia and Afghanistan.
"It is important that external players refrain from interfering with the internal affairs of other countries. Interfering with the internal affairs of other countries is morally and practically wrong. Morally wrong, because the question is what kind of intelligence do you have to think that you can understand the problem in my house better than we the occupants. If we have a problem in our house, we, the occupants will solve it. It is also practically wrong because outsiders cannot have enough information about a foreign situation. They are most likely going to make mistakes. If there is any problem in Uganda, I will surely handle it better than the outsider." Museveni said.
The president also said he would enact the Sovereign Act in the 1995 Constitution, which provides that the independent of organs of state must go with responsibility and accountability. Under Articles 1 and 2 people are sovereign and exercise their sovereignty through the Constitution, which is the supreme law of Uganda and has a binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the country.
Museveni accused CSOs of hiding under the Sovereignty Act to fund citizens against his government. He hailed the Americans for 'harassing' their President Donald Trump on his alleged connection with the Russians.
"We should amend it [Sovereign Act], I propose an amendment so it’s clear because it is meaningless to say all power belongs to the people and then you interfere with those people when they’re making their decision. I have to enact the Sovereignty Act where citizens who help foreigners to interfere in our politics would attract appropriate legal sanctions." he said.
"The people who are fighting with Mr Trump, they say the Russians hacked the computers I don’t know of who and got information about Clinton which they then gave to Trump and Trump used it but they are saying that this was a crime because a foreign power interfered with our politics and I totally agree with them because that would be really interference. But here it is not information, it is actually money, meddling, misinforming."
Museveni has repeatedly accused NGOs for their alleged involvement in funding demonstrations across the country. He claimed that during the recent demonstrations over the arrest and alleged torture of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, Mityana municipality MP Francis Zaake and other suspects, some youths were paid between Shs 100,000 and Shs 300,000 each to burn down Kampala city but they were stopped by security.
The protests drew the attention of the international media and condemnation in various cities across the work. While addressing an international press conference in Washington DC last week, Kyagulanyi's lawyer, Robert Amsterdam vowed to press the US government for sanctions against targeted government officials their alleged involvement in torture.
"We want the US government to immediately suspend military funding to the Ugandan government and launch an investigation into how the military equipment supplied to the Ugandan army is being used in the war of terror in torture against Ugandan citizens."
According to Arthur Larok, the federation development director for ActionAid International, a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and defeat poverty, targeted sanctions against individuals in Museveni's government are effective.
He however, said CSOs have reservations on the calls for economic sanctions since they affect citizens largely.
"I don’t think many of our security officers are just interested to travel to Russia or travel to some other country that doesn’t provide military aid. So you need to check Human Rights Watch’s report about how much money the US government extends to SFC not even UPDF. That is an opportunity for a conversation between those two governments. So targeted sanctions are understandable but as civil society we haven’t reached that point and I don’t think we can call for open-ended sanctions because at the end of the day, it is ordinary citizens that suffer, we have learnt this from many countries." said Larok.
Last week the European Union denied funding protests in the country but admitted to funding activities of both the government and private sector.
"The statement that there are foreign powers or foreign development partners behind NGOs, that in itself for me is not a problem. Because you could also say there is also foreign agents and foreign countries behind government. You know, the EU has a programme with the government of Uganda for €582m for 5-6 year period so there is foreign power lets say or foreign union very very strongly behind government. Does it raise any objections? Probably not. Government is appreciative of that." said Thomas Tiedemann, Head of governance and human rights at the European Union delegation to Uganda.
Besides government, Tiedemann said development partners, equally fund the private sector and civil society organisations. He pointed out that European Union Mission in Uganda is supporting the implementation of the national development plan but it doesn't mean it's the plan is serving foreign interests. There is no development partner, he argued, implanting ideas in Uganda's civil society.
"In the same vein, the European Union supports the private sector in Uganda and in the same vein, the European supports some civil society activities in Uganda. We’re behind them, we’re supporting them just like we’re supporting the implementation of the national development plan through governments that we have with government. That doesn’t mean that the national development plan was drafted by us or reflects our thinking. It reflects Ugandans." said Tiedemann.