Uganda accuses U.S. of subversion after envoy tries to visit Wine’s house

Uganda accuses U.S. of subversion after envoy tries to visit Wine’s house

Uganda’s government spokesman accused the United States on Tuesday of trying to subvert last week’s presidential elections after the U.S. ambassador attempted to visit an opposition leader being held under house arrest.

The military surrounded the home of popstar-turned-legislator Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, shortly after he cast his ballot in Thursday’s presidential elections.

Incumbent Yoweri Museveni, 76, who has been in power since 1986, was declared the winner of the poll with 59% of the vote against Wine’s 35%.

The sharp, public rebuke to the United States from the Ugandan government is relatively unusual as the two nations are allies.

The United States supports Ugandan soldiers serving in an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia and has donated about $1.5 billion to Uganda’s health sector in the past three years.

U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown was stopped from visiting Kyagulanyi at his residence in a suburb in the northern outskirts of the capital, the embassy said in a statement late on Monday.

The mission said Brown wanted to check on the “health and safety” of Wine, who became famous after years of singing about government corruption and nepotism, charges the government denies. Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Brown had no business visiting Wine.

“What she has been trying to do blatantly is to meddle in Uganda’s internal politics, particularly elections, to subvert our elections and the will of the people,” he said. “She shouldn’t do anything outside the diplomatic norms.”

Brown had a track record of causing trouble in countries where she has worked in the past, Opondo claimed, adding that the government was watching her.

There was no immediate comment from Brown or the embassy. The embassy has said last week’s vote was tainted by harassment of opposition candidates, suppression of media and rights advocates and a nationwide internet shutdown.

“These unlawful actions and the effective house arrest of a presidential candidate continue a worrying trend on the course of Uganda’s democracy,” it said.

The United States and the European Union did not deploy observer missions for the polls because Ugandan authorities denied accreditation and failed to implement recommendations by past missions.

During the campaigning security forces routinely broke up Wine’s rallies with teargas, bullets, beatings and detentions. They cited violations of laws meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus for those actions.

In November, 54 people were killed as security forces quelled a protest that erupted after Wine was detained for alleged violation of the anti-coronavirus measures.

Wine and his National Unity Platform (NUP) have rejected the results and said they were planning a court challenge.

On Monday security forces cordoned off the party’s offices in the capital. The party that was aimed at complicating their efforts to collect evidence of irregularities committed during the election.

U.S. military pulls last troops out of Somalia

U.S. military pulls last troops out of Somalia

The U.S. removed its last remaining troops from Somalia over the weekend.

The withdrawal is one of the final acts of the outgoing Trump administration and was completed as part of a Trump directive to pull U.S. soldiers out of the country by mid-January.

The withdrawal comes less than a month before Somalia is set to hold a national election.

The number of U.S. military personnel in Somalia ranged from 650 to 800 people. U.S. troops supported and mentored an elite Somali unit known as the Danab “lightning” brigade.

The U.S. military, through an aggressive campaign of airstrikes, has helped Somalia battle the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, al-Shabaab.

Several experts on the region say the U.S. troop withdrawal could not have come at a worse time. They say al-Shabaab is becoming stronger and bolder as it continues to attack military targets throughout the country, including in the capital, Mogadishu.

Even U.S. assessments say Somalia’s government forces are not ready to take over responsibility for the country’s security, especially as a 19,000-strong multinational African Union force is also set to withdraw by the end of this year.

The U.S. vowed to continue to engage Somali forces and maintain pressure against al-Shabab despite the troop withdrawal.

U.S. Africa Command spokesman Col. Chris Karns says the troops are being moved from Somalia to other African countries such as neighboring Kenya and Djibouti, home of the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa, but would not say how many are going where.

He also said it would be inappropriate to speculate whether incoming U.S. president, Joe Biden would reverse the troop withdrawal.

Trump Impeached For Unprecedented Second Time

Trump Impeached For Unprecedented Second Time

Donald Trump became the first US president in history to be impeached twice when the US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to charge him with inciting last week’s mob attack on Congress.

“Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the vote.

The Senate will not hold a trial before January 20, when Democrat Joe Biden assumes the presidency, meaning the real estate tycoon will escape the ignominy of being forced to leave early.

He is set, however, to face a Senate trial later and if convicted he might be barred in a follow-up vote from seeking the presidency again in 2024.

“Donald Trump has deservedly become the first president in American history to bear the stain of impeachment twice over,” said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who in a week’s time will become Senate leader.

“The Senate is required to act and will proceed with his trial.”

In the House of Representatives, the only question was how many Republicans would join the lockstep Democratic majority in the 232-197 vote. At final count, 10 Republicans broke ranks, including the party’s number three in the House, Representative Liz Cheney.

“I am in total peace today that my vote was the right thing and I actually think history will judge it that way,” said Adam Kinzinger, a vocal Trump critic and one of the Republicans who crossed the aisle.

Holed up in the White House, Trump issued a videotaped address in which he made no mention of impeachment or his ferocious attempts to persuade half the country into believing that Biden’s victory was fraudulent.

Instead, the comments focused on an appeal for Americans to be “united,” avoid violence, and “overcome the passions of the moment.”

“There is never a justification for violence. No excuses, no exceptions: America is a nation of laws,” Trump said.

Biden called Wednesday’s decision by lawmakers “a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience.”

Biden, who inherits the pandemic and an ailing economy amid many other woes, urged the Senate to address his priorities such as approving cabinet nominations while also dealing with Trump’s trial.

“I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” Biden said in a statement.

Despite Trump’s denunciation of violence following the mayhem inflicted by his followers when they invaded Congress, fears of unrest are high.

Armed National Guards deployed across the capital, and downtown Washington streets were blocked to traffic.

In the Capitol building itself, guards in full camouflage and carrying assault rifles assembled, some of them grabbing naps early Wednesday under the ornate statues and historical paintings.

– Speech to mob –

Trump survived the first impeachment almost exactly a year ago when the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of abusing his office to try and get dirt on Biden’s family before the election.

This time, his downfall was triggered by a speech he delivered to a crowd on the National Mall on January 6, telling them that Biden had stolen the presidential election and that they needed to march on Congress and show “strength.”

Amped up on weeks of election conspiracy theories pushed by Trump, the mob then stormed into the Capitol, fatally wounded one police officer, wrecked furniture, and forced terrified lawmakers to hide, interrupting a ceremony to put the legal stamp on Biden’s victory.

One protester was shot dead, and three other people died of “medical emergencies,” bringing the toll to five.

Pelosi told the chamber before the vote that Trump “must go.”

“He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said.

Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar branded Trump a “tyrant,” saying that “for us to able to survive as a functioning democracy there has to be accountability.”

But Nancy Mace, a newly-elected Republican congresswoman said that while lawmakers “need to hold the president accountable,” the speed of the impeachment “poses great questions about the constitutionality.”

The top Republican in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said that while Trump deserves censure, hurriedly impeaching will “further divide this nation.”

– McConnell open to impeachment –

Trump, who has been stripped of his social media megaphones by Twitter and Facebook and finds himself increasingly ostracized in the business world, is struggling to impose his message — let alone any kind of resistance.

His refusal to accept any responsibility for the horrifying scenes on January 6 — including his insistence Tuesday that his speech was “totally appropriate” — has infuriated allies and opponents alike.

The main question now is to what extent former Republican allies in the Senate will turn on their party’s figurehead once the Democrats take over control of the chamber.

US Vice President Mike Pence said he was opposed to invoking the 25th Amendment, a process that could have led to the ouster of President Donald Trump before his term ends on January 20, 2021 © AFP/File / MANDEL NGAN

Current Senate leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, says he will not call for an impeachment trial before Trump’s January 20 exit.

However, he said he is open to the possibility of voting to convict Trump in a later trial after Biden becomes president.

“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell said.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that McConnell is signaling privately that he believes Trump did commit impeachable offenses.

This presents a potentially fatal shift in the ground under Trump’s feet because it could lead other Republican senators to join in convicting Trump with the goal of turning the page in the turbulent relationship between the party and former reality TV host and real estate magnate.

Uganda Elections: Museveni’s government Unleashes Army Tankers In Kampala

Uganda Elections: Museveni’s government Unleashes Army Tankers In Kampala

Uganda’s dictator President Yoweri Museveni has unleashed military tankers on the streets of Kampala, ahead of Thursday’s polls.

Media outlets both in Uganda and outside the country shared videos of military tankers patrolling the city on Tuesday, just hours to the decisive polls.

Military planes were also seen moving around the Kampala skies.

The capital city has majorly been associated with opposition politics and analysts believe the military tankers were not only intimidating voters but also a show of might from the man who seeks to extend his 35-year rule on Uganda.

Reports on social media also indicate that Kampala streets are empty as residents opted to keep off. Could this have an impact on the outcome of the elections?

Kampala has borne the brunt of Museveni’s brutal police forces in these campaigns.

At least 50 people were killed in November following a protest that emerged after the arrest of opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine.

Police and the opposition have traded barbs over the cause of the violence.

In fact, on Tuesday, the police claimed that Bobi Wine plans to cause violence in the country by staging his own arrest.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said on Thursday that Wine will hide in one of the embassies after casting his vote on Thursday.

“He will thereafter allege, through his NUP networks and bloggers, that he has been kidnapped by state operatives,” Enanga said, warning that this will not be tolerated.

Bobi Wine’s spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi vehemently denied these claims, asking Enanga to seek medical help.

The 2021 presidential elections have attracted 11 candidates. Bobi Wine is seen as the greatest challenger to Museveni’s 35-year rule.

OPINION: Farmaajo’s diplomatic screwups hurting Somalia

OPINION: Farmaajo’s diplomatic screwups hurting Somalia

To say that Somalia’s foreign policy has been successful in recent years would be an overstatement. The once united nation is collapsing at the seams. Unfortunately, for the administration, the true nature of this reality hasn’t dawned yet.

The failures of the president and his ministry of foreign affairs threaten Somalia’s territorial integrity and survival as a state. The inability to recognize the consequences of their indiscretion as well as fragility as a union is their biggest undoing.

Kenya is Somalia’s most important regional partner both for trade, socio-cultural and historical reasons. The two nations are joined at the hip. Mogadishu’s dramatic severing of all diplomatic ties with Kenya was a rash decision that was made without thinking through all the potential implications.

Complaints such as those raised by Mohamed Farmaajo’s administration (which are yet to be formally substantiated), have avenues through which they could have been dealt with and resolved in a civil manner. Had they followed this approach, they may have avoided giving Kenya the license to retaliate as severely as it did – recognizing the de-facto state of Somaliland.
This tantrum seems to be distracting from the crux of the matter; Somaliland, Jubaland, and others’ secessionist aspirations as well as Madobe’s pre-existing entente with Kenya. Based on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) summit earlier this month, we can all conjecture the outburst was pointless and did nothing to further Somalia’s stability, security, and development.

If truth be told, it did more harm than good as Kenya was not even reprimanded. For Somaliland, Kenya’s recognition was a great success in its pursuit of total autonomy.

It’s time for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to stop avoiding the obvious. Although Somaliland is part of FGS, it is a fully-fledged independent state. Somaliland has shown to be superior to the federal government in all indicators of statehood including tax collection, human development, security, judicial and financial systems, and even diplomacy.

Analyzing its aspirations through the lens of international law would lead us to the same conclusion: Somaliland fulfills all the criteria for statehood outlined by the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States. The Farmaajo administration has been fighting to keep this region under its fist and is failing to see it has more important and urgent problems to tackle first.

Abdiweli Gaas, former Puntland President is remembered for his slogan, “Somalia is not Mogadishu and Mogadishu is not Somalia”. As a post-conflict state, Somalia must focus on rebuilding its country from the bottom-up and approbate Somaliland as a state.

Now is the time to begin building a system, where regions are motivated to remain united under the federal government and ensure Somaliland is the last region to secede and not the first.

That Somalia has miscalculated on her relationship with Kenya is mirrored by an earlier misstep with the United Arab Emirates. Somalia had strong relations with the United Arab Emirates, another great investor in Somalia.

Somalia was put in a tough position when the Emirati-Saudi bloc of Gulf States announced their blockade of Qatar, an ally of Turkey, expecting Somalia’s support. However, the federal government of Somalia attempted to remain neutral in order to retain the favor of both Turkey and the UAE.

As we saw from what happened, this bore no fruit. They instead opted to support a Kuwaiti initiative to resolve the political crisis unfolding in the Gulf. It is not hard to see why this decision was seen as a vote in favor of Qatar and Turkey.

In response, the UAE immediately ended its military support for Somalia and closed the vital Sheikh Zayed Hospital that served thousands of poor and displaced people in Mogadishu who had no other means of receiving healthcare. Mogadishu’s failure to manage this led to greater costs than they could have imagined and will likely be a major contributor to Somaliland’s eventual total secession.

I do not advocate for division or secessionism, and I think it is wrong that Somalia has divided itself as aggressively as it has mainly on the basis of clan divisions. A utopic united Somalia is an idea that many of us would find solace in.

However, realistically that does not seem to be the case. The failures of the federal government in the management of its foreign relations seem to be the biggest impediment towards its aspirations of a united prosperous Somalia.

Golf Distances Itself From Trump Despite His Love Of The Game

Golf Distances Itself From Trump Despite His Love Of The Game

As much as President Donald Trump loves golf, leaders of the sport are racing away from the embattled US leader for what they say is the good of the game.

The PGA of America stripped the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump National at Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday, days after Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol.

PGA of America chief executive officer Seth Waugh says associating with Trump would be harmful to the organization’s brand and its mission to grow and support the sport.

“It became clear to us that our brand was at stake,” Waugh told The Golf Channel on Monday. “We thought we were putting at risk that mission if we were to hold the tournament at Trump Bedminster.”

The R&A, global golf’s governing body, said Monday that Trump Turnberry, a past regular stop for the British Open, was not in current plans for the championship.

“We had no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future,” the R&A said in a statement.

“We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players, and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances.”

Trump Bedminster hosted the 2017 US Women’s Open, the US Golf Association pressing ahead despite protesters outside the club. It was awarded the 2022 PGA in 2014 by the PGA of America, which called removing the event a business decision rather than a political one.

“Right now in the country almost anybody views any decision being made as political,” PGA of America president Jim Richerson told Golf Channel.

“We tried to take politics out of it and just get back and focus on our brand and what’s best for the game of golf. We all believe it was the right decision.”

Trump’s trademark love of golf includes ownership of at least 17 worldwide golf properties and hundreds of rounds played during his presidency.

At the 2017 Presidents Cup, Trump became the first sitting President to award the trophy after a 19-11 US victory at Liberty National in New Jersey.

Trump has played alongside such stars as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who gave lukewarm support after rounds.
“Well, he’s the president of the United States. You have to respect the office,” Woods said in 2018. “You may like, dislike personality or politics, but we all must respect the office.”

Woods, a 15-time major winner, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump in 2019.

McIlroy played alongside Trump in 2017 but said last year he doubted he would do it again.

“I probably wouldn’t, no,” McIlroy said last May. “The day that I did spend with him and others was very enjoyable. He’s very charismatic and was nice to everyone… That doesn’t mean I agree with everything — or, in fact, anything — that he says.”

Waugh wouldn’t say if he thought Trump was good for golf.

“I know he has a passion for it and I know he has certainly done an awful lot of good,” Waugh said. “He owns some of the greatest properties on the planet and I know he has been a good steward for those properties. I know he has an abiding love for the game and I hope he continues to have a home in it.”