Friday, November 18, 2005

A rare foray into Africa

What the pissing hell is going on in Uganda? We've had attacks on foreign aid workers, the arrest of the opposition leader on charges of treason and rape, had the riots in support, further arrests, more riots, then mysterious gunmen disrupting court cases, and now newspaper offices being raided by police (the paper's own take is here, which I'll cut and paste in the comments in case it goes offline).

This all sounds rather like Mugabe's tactics in Zimbabwe, which is hardly a good development. Could we be witnessing the early stages of a return to the darker days of the country's history?

And why, exactly, has Britain been pretty much silent on the issue? The US has issued travel warnings, expressed its "deep concern" and called for fair trials. Why haven't we done the same?

Uganda remains part of the Commonwealth, and was even visited by the Commonwealth's Secretary-General a month ago. Is the post-Empire organisation just going to sit back and do fuck all once again, as it did with Zimbabwe? Are we all once again going to ignore what's going on in some far-off African country until it's too late?

The answers to those two questions, sadly, are likely to be "yes". Based on past record, the Commonwealth will simply sit back and watch, despite protestations that Uganda is a top priority for the organisation.

After all, who cares, eh? Most of the western world's interest in Africa is represented fairly well by those pre-Livingston maps of the continent - a few vague attempts to understand the edges, but the heart of the continent, the deeper understanding, remains blank. They're just savages, aren't they?

Nice to see our compassion and understanding of Africa has advanced so far in the last two centuries...

2 Comments:

Blogger Nosemonkey said...

The Monitor's take on its offices being raided:

Police raids Monitor over FDC ad
KFM/Monitor Online


At least 20-armed policemen led by the Commissioner in Charge of Crime, Edison Mbiringi, Thursday night stormed the Daily Monitor offices shortly after 11:00pm until about 1 am.

The action was borne out of suspicion that Monitor Publications was responsible for printing of a poster that was last evening pinned up in various locations in Kampala by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). The FDC had also paid for a half page advertisement in today's Daily Monitor containing similar information. See ad here.

The FDC sponsored advertisement for the fund in Daily Monitor reads as follows:

Contribute to the Kizza Besigye Human Rights Fund, to support the Defence of Political Prisoners.

The advert shows Dr Kizza Besigye handcuffed with another prisoner and below it a message calling for people to "Stand up and be counted for Democracy!”. It also names a bank account number to which funds can be deposited; DFCU Bank A/C No. 01L 2505094800, DFCU Main Branch, Impala House, Kampala.

The police said the ad was illegal because the FDC had not obtained police permission for fundraising. Monitor Publiactions management however informed them that it was not aware of any law requiring clients to obtain police permission before fundraising through ads in a newspaper and that such fundraising appeals are published regularly. Campaigns in support of heart surgery, school infrastructure etc have been published before without police permission. The police withdrew at this point to consult their seniors.

The drama didn’t end at Monitor’s Namuwongo offices however. At 1.30am, a police and army roadblock at Mukono, 16km east of Kampala had stopped a Monitor eastern Uganda newspaper delivery van and a thorough inspection of the newspapers made.

Between 2am and 5.45am, Monitor delievry vans were held at security roadblocks on the way to northern and western Uganda (Bombo and Mbarara towns) as well as the way to Entebbe Airport. In Mbarara, Western Uganda, particular attention was paid to the parcel containing newspapers for Col Besigye's home district of Rukungiri.

In the eastern Ugandan town of Pallisa, a Monitor agent was this morning ordered not to sell the Daily Monitor while in the western towns of Kabale and Rukungiri, the police were deployed at agents' offices to seize the stocks on arrival. It took a protest from Monitor management to redeem the situation.

Minister offers defence
The Minister of Information, Dr James Nsaba Buturo was this morning quoted on our radio station KFM saying the police "had strong reasons to carry out the raids" because of their suspicions.

Last night's events come in the wake of threats that broke out on Sunday November 13 from government demanding the retraction of a story published that day (about the position of Commander of the Defence Forces having been first offered to Gen Saleh before it was offered to Gen Aronda) and an apology as well as, later, a demand for the sacking of Political Editor, who wrote the story, with the risk of closure if Monitor did not comply.

Monitor Publications did not yield to any of the demands and came close to being closed on Tuesday this week. The government appears to have reconsidered its position and the situation currently appears to be normalising (notwithstanding last night's events) .

11/18/2005 11:10:00 am  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

The trouble is, NM, what would we do, exactly? We wouldn't want to act unilaterally, would we now? Surely this is the sort of thing that the UN should be sorting out, if only it wasn't so fucking useless (and corrupt)?

We won't do anything: our colonial guilt is only on the increase. Besides, our army is stretched to breaking point as it is.

As for economic sanctions, I think that many people would argue that Iraq demonstrated that they hit the poorest hardest, and those in power rarely suffer. What do we buy from Uganda anyway?

DK

11/18/2005 03:24:00 pm  

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