Tuesday, 23 February 2016

In the US, "A real quick question" on Uganda

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner

The US has nothing new to say about the aftermath of the Uganda elections, State Deputy Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner told the Daily Press Briefing in Washington yesterday.

This after a journalist asked for an update and also wished to add the question of homo-sexuality to the list of US concerns after Uganda's Presidential election won by incumbent Yoweri Museveni.

Post election has seen main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye held by police over various accusations, the latest being an attempt yesterday to march into the city supposedly to pick presidential result declaration forms from the Electoral Commission. Besigye has rejected the election results.

Before he was held, Uganda Police sited the Public Order Management Act 2013, and said failure by Besigye to follow agreed procedure before marches, “will leave the police no option but to use necessary means to maintain law and order in accordance with the Constitution.”

Here below is the transcript.  Topics addressed in the briefing were Central Africa Republic, China, Syria, Egypt, Middle East and UGANDA.

Daily Press Briefing US, February 22, 2016

QUESTION: A real quick question on Uganda.


QUESTION: Do you have anything further in relation to Saturday’s election results, in particular the reported arrest of President Museveni’s chief challenger, which I think broke earlier today?

MR TONER: Yes. I mean, I don’t, unfortunately, have much new to report, except as you say. I mean, you saw our statement over the weekend. We acknowledged numerous reports of irregularities and official conduct that was deeply inconsistent with international standards and expectations for any democratic process, and obviously we’re very concerned about the detention of the opposition presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye. And we would encourage anyone who wishes to contest the election results to do so peacefully and in accordance with Uganda’s laws, but we also urge the Ugandan Government to respect the rights and freedoms of its people and refrain from interference.

QUESTION: And as a quick follow-up to that, are you aware of any sort of anti-gay rhetoric that was taking place prior to Thursday’s election, since Museveni was the one who signed the anti-homosexuality act into law two years ago?

MR TONER: Yeah, I’m not, frankly. But there was a lot of – as we talked about in general, a lot of intimidation, preventing of access to social media sites. I’m not sure any of it I could say was targeting the gay population or LGBT population in Uganda, but I can look into that.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.


What was said last week..........

This is statement from the US DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing late yesterday Thursday, February 18 by Spokesperson John Kirby

Finally on Uganda and the elections today, Ugandans head to the polls to elect their president. The United States condemns the detention of opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye while voting and tallying is going on. Such an action calls into question Uganda’s commitment to a transparent and free election process, free from intimidation. The United States is concerned also by the late opening of many polling stations as well as the Government of Uganda’s decision to block several popular social media and mobile money sites here on election day. We continue to urge government authorities as well as all political parties and their supporters to refrain from further acts or rhetoric that may lead to more unrest or claim any more lives.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: Were you aware that Mr. Besigye has actually been released or --

MR KIRBY: No, I have not gotten that report.

QUESTION: Okay. But so you still condemn --

MR KIRBY: Are you saying --

QUESTION: He was briefly – well, he was briefly detained.

MR KIRBY: I have not seen those reports, but --

QUESTION: He was taken into custody, but --

MR KIRBY: -- by the time I came out here, as far as I know, he was still detained.

QUESTION: Okay. But no matter whether --

MR KIRBY: It doesn’t excuse the detention --


MR KIRBY: -- one way or the other.



STATE DEPARTMENT press briefing Friday, February 19

Today's Press Briefing By State Dept. Deputy Spokesman Mark C. Toner - Washington DC, 

QUESTION: In his call with President Museveni of Uganda --
MR TONER: Yeah, yeah.
QUESTION: -- this morning, did the Secretary say that there would be any kind of consequences if the situation surrounding the election and the treatment of the opposition didn’t improve? Or did he warn that there might be?
MR TONER: I’m not sure that he has actually said that we said there’d be any consequences other than we obviously always retain the option to take steps if we --
MR TONER: -- if we see a lack of progress or clearly efforts to impede free and fair elections.
QUESTION: Yeah. Did he --
MR TONER: I think the Secretary was very frank with – sorry, just – with President Museveni about our concerns that detention – steps like the detention of the opposition presidential candidate, which is clearly a significant step, but polling stations opening late, other things we’ve seen on the ground lead us to have the concerns about the fact that whether these elections are free and fair.
QUESTION: Right, but do you know if he actually told the president that there – or said that there were – that this kind of – these kind of actions could draw a – could result in consequences from --
QUESTION: -- from the United States? Did he specifically say that, do you know?
MR TONER: I don’t know if he specifically raised that. I’ll – what I can say is that any further actions on our part will depend on the actions of the election and the government officials in Uganda over the next few days.



STATE DEPARTMENT press STATEMENT Saturday, February 20th

Kerry calls Museveni, Ugandan president explains situation under control - Friday 19th

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