US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Friday announced visa restrictions on Ugandan government officials accused of human rights violations and repressive acts during the January 14 general elections and campaign period.
President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 35 years. After the January 14 general election, he was declared the winner with 58 percent of the votes. This election was highly contested, and Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine filed a challenge in the country’s Supreme Court seeking the cancellation of presidential election results declaring incumbent President Museveni the winner. He withdrew the challenge later in February. Wine also asked the International Criminal Court to investigate President Yoweri Museveni, Security Minister Elly Tumwine and eight other senior officials for sanctioning human rights abuses.
During the campaign and election, opposition candidates were reportedly harassed, arrested and held illegally without charge. Security forces were responsible for killing and injuring dozens of bystanders, opposition supporters and journalists. Civil society organizations and activists were also reportedly targeted with harassment, deportation and other acts. According to the statement released on Friday, the “electoral process was neither free nor fair.”
On Friday, Blinken denounced the Ugandan government’s actions during the campaign and election. He called upon the government to “significantly improve its record and hold accountable those responsible for flawed conduct, violence, and intimidation,” stating that the US would continue to evaluate additional actions against other individuals.