Special Reports

Museveni, EU Diplomats Meet over Human Rights, 2016 Polls

Museveni meeting EU diplomats at Rwakitura recently

President Museveni has met and hosted European Union Heads of Mission in Uganda for an ‘Article 8’ Political Dialogue between Uganda and European Union,  Chimp Corps report.

Relations between Uganda and European Union were strained last year after the country passed the Anti-homosexuality Bill, with western powers insisting it would violate rights of the sexual minority.

The legislation would later be scrapped off the law books by the Constitutional Court. Corruption has also been one of the sticky issues between European Union and the government.

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The meeting took place at the President’s country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District on Friday April 24, 2015 sought to address some of these challenges and strengthening partnership for mutual benefit.

Article 8 refers to the political dimension of the Cotonou Agreement, the legal framework agreement covering political, development and trade relations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, of which Uganda is a signatory.

The dialogue, organized regularly, offers a platform for consultations over a broad range of issues, as well as an opportunity to take stock of progress made concerning ‘essential elements’ of the Cotonou Agreement: respect for human rights, rule of law, democratic principles and good governance.

The EU Head of Delegation to Uganda, Ambassador Kristian Schmidt led the EU team comprised of 5 EU Member States Ambassadors and other representatives in Uganda.

Among the EU Member States Ambassadors were Alison Blackburne (United Kingdom);  Peter-Christof Blomeyer (Germany); Dónal Cronin (Ireland); Alain Hanssen (Belgium) and Sophie Makame (France). Other Member States representatives were Mr. Martin Bo Brander (Denmark) and Mr. Christian Fogelström (Sweden).

The Uganda team included the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Hon. James Baba, Deputy Attorney General Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana, Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Hon. Simon Lokodo, Minister of State for Works Hon. Asuman Kiyingi, Minister of State for Finance (Investments) Hon. Gabriel Gadison Ajedra Aridru and the Solicitor General, Francis Atoke.

The meeting focused on Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, Democracy and Human Rights as well as Regional Security.

State House said in a statement on Sunday that “discussions presented a renewed confirmation of the important relationship between Uganda and the EU.”

“President Museveni and the EU Ambassadors enjoyed an open and frank dialogue and detailed specific and positive outcomes and commitments.”

On Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, President Museveni and the EU appreciated the increasing EU-Ugandan trade and investment cooperation and reassured their commitments to continue.

Both sides agreed that it is important to increase the attractiveness of Uganda for investment and to ensure a level playing field for the companies.

Both sides also agreed on the importance of addressing economic empowerment of women.

The parties reached a mutual understanding that the ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards corruption needs to be enforced and that institutions combating corruption would be strengthened.

The President showed a great interest in and appreciation of the newly-created European Business Forum in Uganda. The EU committed to increase and promote trade and investment in Uganda. The President also committed to ensuring that health and safety standards of Ugandan agricultural products exported would be guaranteed.

On Democracy and Human Rights, “the EU and President Museveni both stated their commitments to upholding democratic values and human rights,” said State House.

The meeting also discussed the contentious Electoral Reform Bill for the 2016 general elections in light of the recommendations identified in the EU Electoral Observation Mission (EU EOM) 2011 Final report.

President Museveni reassured that the electoral reform bill would be introduced in the Parliament after the Parliament recess.

He also affirmed to the EU of the Government of Uganda’s commitment to conduct free and fair elections in 2016.

Museveni invited the EU to dispatch an electoral observation mission to the 2016 general elections. Opposition leaders have since vowed to disrupt the electoral process if the proposed reforms including the disbandment of the current Electoral Commission are not adopted.

At the meeting, the EU applauded the President’s support of the UN ‘HeForShe’ campaign to promote women empowerment and encouraged President Museveni to continue to prioritise fighting gender based violence on women in the society.

President Museveni and the EU also discussed the Non-Governmental Organizations Bill and shared constructive views on issues of mutual concern which should be further addressed in the Bill.

The President committed to promoting a substantial consultation process during Parliament’s discussions of the Bill.

He also committed to engaging with the Uganda Human Rights Commission in order to follow up on its latest annual report on human rights violations within the police.

The EU applauded Uganda for enacting and adopting the Anti-Torture Act and encouraged the government to sign the optional protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

On Regional security, the EU welcomed the role Uganda is playing in the region and encouraged Uganda to continue its role, both through diplomacy and regional peace-keeping efforts.

President Museveni and the European Union shared concerns on radicalisation and regional security in the Horn of Africa and discussed further venues for enhanced cooperation on these issues.

Both sides expressed their concern about the situation in Burundi and South Sudan. The European Union encouraged Uganda, in cooperation with other East African Community (EAC) members, to step up its diplomatic engagement.

Background

The EU Delegation holds the local Presidency of the EU in Uganda. The Delegation is tasked with speaking on behalf the EU in Uganda, reflecting common EU positions and spearheading EU values on Human Rights, governance and democracy.

There are 10 EU Member States in Uganda: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Cooperation between the EU and the Group of African Caribbean and Pacific countries is currently framed in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA, 2000-2020).

The agreement features a deeper and wider political dialogue with political cooperation as one of the three pillars of the cooperative framework, the others being trade and development cooperation.

The Political Dialogue is an integral part of the Cotonou agreement, together with the European Development Fund, which allocates €578 Million to Uganda for 2014 to 2020. The total EU and bilateral aid from EU Member States is increasing and exceeds € 2 Billion for the said period.

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