In a sharp response to the United States’ decision to exclude Uganda from an economic assistance program over human rights concerns, President Yoweri Museveni delivered a scathing criticism of the West. Addressing parliament speakers from Commonwealth nations, Museveni urged them to resist what he termed as the “evil tendencies” of Western countries towards societies with different values.
The Ugandan president accused the West of oppression in various forms, including aggression, looting, enslavement, displacement, ethnic cleansing, colonization, and indirect domination. He emphasized the need to value freedom, independence, and dignity for everyone, calling for respect for societies that differ from Western norms.
Museveni criticized certain countries for using technological progress to suppress others with distinct values, accusing them of monopolizing knowledge and using it to oppress. He highlighted the misuse of human progress for selfish gains and called for a more inclusive approach to benefit all nations.
Uganda has faced international pressure on human rights issues, particularly since the enactment of an anti-homosexuality law in May 2023. The World Bank withdrew funding, and this week, Uganda lost eligibility for the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), impacting its duty-free access to the U.S. market for thousands of products.
Asuman Basalirwa, a Ugandan parliament member behind the controversial anti-gay legislation, expressed disappointment over what he perceived as preferential treatment by Western countries. He acknowledged the country might suffer from the AGOA closure but emphasized the need to explore opportunities in the Commonwealth nations, East Asia, and the U.S. market.
Uganda’s earnings through AGOA had grown from $4 million to about $8 million in the 12 months leading up to June 2023. Despite challenges, Museveni remains optimistic about leveraging Uganda’s access to the Commonwealth nations, comprising former British colonies, to boost its economy. Basalirwa emphasized the importance of diversifying markets, including East Asia, to mitigate the impact of losing AGOA privileges.