WASHINGTON —The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said Washington is paying close attention to elections proceedings in Uganda and warned against human rights violation.
In a tweet, Pompeo said Uganda was a long-standing partner and Washington expected its partners to hold free and fair elections.
“We are paying close attention to the actions of individuals who seek to impede the ongoing democratic process,” he said.
On Tuesday, Democratic chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, and the most senior Republican on the panel, Michael McCaul, asked the U.S. government to punish seven top Ugandan security officials under the Global Magnitsky Act for their role in rights abuses, saying the country is sliding toward authoritarianism.
Uganda is due to hold a general election on January 14 in which incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled since 1986, is seeking sixth term.
In the letter to Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the congressmen said Museveni’s government had a history of repression including attacks on independent media, arrests and torture of opposition leaders and supporters, and a failure to prosecute those responsible for extrajudicial killings.
“Diplomatic rhetoric alone has had little impact on President Museveni’s behavior. Instead, he has further consolidated power while preventing the emergence of a viable democratic opposition,” the letter said.
The State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem, denied that Museveni’s government condoned violence and rights abuses and said an investigation was underway into opposition protests and deaths last month.
The letter said seven top security officials, including the deputy chief of police, Gen. Sabiiti Muzeyi and the head of the military’s special forces should be designated under the Magnitsky Act because they were among those responsible for violence and rights violations.