Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uganda's Norbert Mao in Washington

Norbert Mao
KPFA Weekend News, 06.26.2011: 

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones: Ugandan opposition leader Norbert Mao has been in the United States asking U.S. Congressmembers and State Department officials to stop supporting the repressive regime of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who entered his 26th year in power after February elections that European Union election observers and Uganda's opposition, declared a sham. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Norbert Mao, inbetween his appointments in Washington D.C.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:  Norbert Mao, you've been in the United States to try to persuade the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. State Department, to support the pro-democracy movement in Uganda. Have you had any success with that?

Norbert Mao:  I see there's a big change in American opinion at the highest possible levels. Of course the visuals on Aljazeera, BBC, and CNN showing how the Ugandan armed forces and the police used excessive force, in brutalizing unarmed protestors, had already prepared the ground. So when I arrived, most people wanted to meet me. I have been able to meet members of Congress. And I met the Congresswoman from Minnesota, Congresswoman Betty McCollum. She has agreed to work with other members of Congress, both parties, to write a letter to President Obama, calling for stronger action and condemnation of the abuses of the rights of Ugandans. She has also agreed that she can host a briefing session on Capitol Hill, where we will bring the evidence showing that President Museveni, after 25 years in power, has despotic ambitions, he's corrupt, he's excessively violent, and he has no legitimacy, having rigged the elections. So the tide is turning in Washington. I'm very glad that we are being listened to.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:  The U.S.A. has no more longstanding and loyal military partner in Africa than Uganda. Ugandans serve, like Rwandans, as UN troops in Southern Sudan, which is a U.S. protectorate. Ugandans are also the bulk of the 9,000 UN troops defending the Western-backed government in Somalia, where President Yoweri Museveni is now in charge, and Ugandans hired by private mercenary contractors, and the U.S. Army, are also serving in Iraq.  And, the U.S. is donor #1 to Uganda.

Given the importance of the U.S.A.’s military security investments in Yoweri Museveni and the Ugandan Army, do you still think that they can make room for the democratic aspirations of the Ugandan people?
Norbert Mao and U.S.-based Ugandan journalist Charles
Bukenya outside the White House in Washington D.C.
Norbert Mao: We have to assume that the U.S. always has this delicate balance between the ideals for which it stands and security interests, which are basically selfish. We hope that, at the end of the day, America will choose to promote democratic ideals and also promote security, but not promote security at the expense of the democratic ideals. We know that President Museveni is not in Somalia because he loves the Somalis. He's not in Somalia because he believes in the War on Terror. He just wants a blank check, to rule Uganda for as long as he wants.
Our message to the U.S. is simple. Museveni is not the only possible, credible partner you can have in Uganda. Secondly, we understand that Uganda is an anchor state, projecting military power in the region. But you cannot have this undemocratic state projecting a lot of military power in the region. So, the U.S., eventually has got to be itself. It has got to be the United States, with some founding ideals. And the partnership the U.S. has to have should not just be with the government.  It should be with the people of Uganda.  
KPFA:  For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.

Listen to the audio archive of this KPFA Radio News at http://www.anngarrison.com/audio/uganda-opposition-leader-norbert-mao-in-washington.

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