Ugandan President Gen Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has a tough decision to make in coming weeks after his US counterpart Joe Biden’s trade envoy revealed what Kampala must do to prevent Washington from removing Uganda from the list of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) beneficiary countries.
Recently, President Biden announced Uganda and a few other African countries would no longer benefit from the AGOA trade deal over human rights violations and for undermining democratic principles. (See Details Here).
It is now clear that among the human rights issues the Biden administration is concerned about is the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
According to a letter that Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in the Office of the President, wrote to Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa, at the end of last month, Kampala must meet two conditions so as to appease Washington and remain as a beneficiary of AGOA.
Reminding Mwebesa that the Biden government has on a number of occasions warned Uganda on her human rights situation, Tai said that Museveni’s government must present a plan committing to deal with the human rights situation in the country, and delete the Anti-Homosexuality Act from Uganda’s law books.
“It is still possible with urgent action for Uganda to retain its eligibility for AGOA benefits if 1) your government publicly releases an action plan on addressing human rights concerns; and 2) the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) is repealed,” Tai wrote to Mwebesa on October 31.
“More recently, the enactment and enforcement of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) of 2023 is the latest in a series of actions by the Government of Uganda to undermine respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Ugandans. Uganda’s AHA threatens the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and those perceived to be LGBTQl+, It has created a hostile environment and is an affront to human dignity.”
Quoting the U.S. Public Law 106-200 which pegs eligibility to AGOA on beneficiary countries staying clear of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, Tai told Kampala to act urgently. But what will Uganda have to do if she fails to meet the two demands by the start of next year.
“If Uganda takes urgent action on these two items, it will not lose its AGOA eligibility on January 1, 2024. However, should Uganda fail to address these items and lose its AGOA eligibility, the U.S. Government will provide your government a list of benchmarks in order for Uganda’s AGOA benefits to be restored,” Tai further wrote.
“I hope that you will quickly and resolutely address these actions to demonstrate Uganda’s commitment to human rights and democracy.”
It should be remembered that this week, Museveni sent a team to ‘beg’ US president Biden to reverse decision kicking Uganda from AGOA trade deal. (See Details Here).
Meanwhile, Museveni’s government plans to beg for money from the World Bank even when the international lender has threatened to stop giving loans to Uganda over homosexual rights. (Read Story Here).