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CONFIDENTIAL (97070)
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN (4678)
SECRET (11322)
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UNCLASSIFIED (75792)
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (58095)
Reference ID 10KAMPALA55 (original text)
SubjectUNDER SECRETARY OTERO'S MEETING WITH MINISTER OF
OriginEmbassy Kampala
ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL
ReleasedAug 30, 2011 01:44
CreatedFeb 4, 2010 14:34
VZCZCXRO6205
RR RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #0055/01 0351434
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 041434Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0199
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KAMPALA 000055 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/04 
TAGS:                
SUBJECT: UNDER SECRETARY OTERO'S MEETING WITH MINISTER OF 
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS 
 
REF: 09 KAMPALA 00979; 10 KAMPALA 41; 10 KAMPALA 47; 10 KAMPALA 45 
10 STATE 3079 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Aaron Sampson, Pol/Econ Chief; REASON: 1.4(B), (D) 
 
 1. (C) Summary: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs 
Maria Otero raised U.S. concerns over Uganda's preparations for the 
2011 elections and the draft anti-homosexuality bill with the State 
Minister for International Affairs Henry Okello Oryem on January 
 29. Oryem rebuffed perceptions of the Electoral Commission as 
partial toward the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), and 
justified restrictions on press freedoms and opposition parties' 
right to assemble as necessary to maintain stability. Oryem 
stressed the counter-productive nature of additional public 
international pressure against the draft anti-homosexuality bill, 
and said Cabinet is working quietly to water-down or derail the 
legislation. Oryem reiterated Uganda's commitment to pursue the 
Lord's Resistance Army, and confirmed Uganda's support for the 
Copenhagen Accord. End Summary 
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
No Quarter on Electoral Commission 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
 2. (C) Under Secretary Otero, DRL Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel 
Baer, the DCM and PolOffs registered concerns about the 
impartiality of Uganda's Electoral Commission with State Minister 
for International Affairs Oryem on January 29. Oryem acknowledged 
opposition party and civil society concerns about the Commission's 
lack of independence, stating that he would make similar complaints 
were he an opposition leader. However, Oryem said President 
Museveni believes the Commission managed the 2006 elections well 
and that Commission members were reappointed in accordance with 
constitutional requirements. 
 
 
 
 3. (C) Under Secretary Otero noted that legal requirements 
governing the appointment of the Electoral Commission do not 
preclude the President from consulting with opposition parties, and 
that his decision not to do so increased suspicion and constituted 
a lost political opportunity (ref. A). Oryem said adhering to the 
law is all that matters, that Museveni is entitled by the 
Constitution to appoint the Electoral Commission, and accused 
western governments of similarly tilting playing fields during 
election years. "In the same manner that you perceive the Electoral 
Commission as unfairly appointed," said Oryem, "we have views on 
things in your country. It is all politics." The Under Secretary 
responded that not everything is politics and that certain 
essential principles must be in place to assure a democratic 
process. 
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
 Opposition Meetings and Press Freedoms 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
 
 
 4. (C) Turning to restrictions on the opposition's ability to 
assemble and press freedoms, Under Secretary Otero urged Uganda to 
work with opposition parties to ensure space for lawful assemblies. 
Oryem said the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is negotiating 
with opposition parties to reach an agreement on this issue, and 
assured the Under Secretary that the IGP has the political 
authority to undertake this kind of negotiation. Under Secretary 
Otero said it would also be helpful if President Museveni reminded 
the police of the need to assure freedom of assembly. Oryem 
expressed certainty that Museveni directed the IGP to dialogue with 
opposition leaders for exactly this reason. NOTE: On February 2, 
the spokesman for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) 
party told PolOff that no discussions with the IGP are on going, 
but that an oft-postponed memorandum of understanding between 
opposition parties and the NRM may include an agreement on space 
 
KAMPALA 00000055  002 OF 003 
 
 
for political rallies. The IGP later confirmed to RSO that this 
memorandum, which is brokered by the Netherlands Institute for 
Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), should include language on the 
opposition's right to assemble. NIMD's director told PolOff on 
February 4 that the IGP was not involved and that freedom of 
assembly is referenced in the memorandum's preamble.  END NOTE. 
 
 
 
 5. (C) Oryem said Ugandan media enjoys more freedom than any other 
media in the region, and that the Ugandan government is simply 
seeking accountable, responsible journalism. Under Secretary Otero 
and the DCM challenged Oryem's comparative assessment of press 
freedoms, noting that Uganda has silenced many local journalists by 
threatening or initiating legal action (ref. B), and that local 
media is not as free as it should be in the run up to democratic 
elections. In response, Oryem advised the U.S. not to judge Uganda 
by western standards.  He recommended patience, and said change in 
Africa happens slowly. He suggested that Uganda will work out 
issues like media freedoms over the next 10 to 15 years. 
 
 
 
 6. (C) Under Secretary Otero noted that Uganda's management of the 
2011 election process will influence President Museveni's legacy 
and place in history. Oryem pledged to do everything possible to 
ensure the elections are free and fair.  Implicitly referencing 
recent election-related unrest in neighboring countries, he then 
asked the U.S. to engage with opposition parties, parliament, and 
other political actors to remind them of the dangers of political 
instability and to advise against  "copy cat" scenarios. 
 
 
 
 ------------------------- 
 
 Anti-Homosexuality 
 
 ------------------------- 
 
 
 
 7. (C) Oyrem also advised patience on the anti-homosexuality bill, 
stating that Uganda is trying to craft a "win-win" situation for 
all stakeholders without provoking a backlash in Parliament and 
with the public. He urged the U.S. and other international donors 
to "take time out to consider and appreciate" the perspective of 
Uganda and Africa in general, and said additional "noise" on this 
issue from the international community plays into the hands of 
those supporting the bill. 
 
 
 
 8. (C) Asking his note takers to leave subsequent statements out of 
the Ministry's official record, Oryem assured the Under Secretary 
that Cabinet is moving to quietly shelve the bill without agitating 
core members of the NRM caucus. He described the January 20 Cabinet 
meeting on the bill (ref. C) as a "free for all" that revealed the 
previously unknown positions of several Cabinet members. "Now we 
know who is who," said Oryem, " and how to deal with it. It will be 
worked out." 
 
 
 
------------------------------ 
 
LRA and Climate Change 
 
 ------------------------------ 
 
 
 
 9. (C) The Under Secretary praised Uganda's continued pursuit of 
the LRA, and reinforced the U.S. commitment to support Uganda in 
this effort. Oreym said President Museveni is determined pursue the 
LRA, but that Uganda needs help from the Democratic Republic of 
Congo and Sudan to secure areas previously inhabited by LRA 
fighters. 
 
 
 
 10. (U) Oryem also confirmed Uganda's intention to associate to the 
Copenhagen Accord on global climate change (ref. E). Earlier on 
January 29, Minister of Water and Environment Maria Mutagamba told 
 
KAMPALA 00000055  003 OF 003 
 
 
the Under Secretary that President Museveni has already agreed to 
support the accord. 
 
 
 
 --------------------------------------------- - 
 
Comment: Setting the Electoral Stage 
 
 --------------------------------------------- - 
 
 
 
 11. (C) Under Secretary Otero notified the Foreign Ministry of our 
intention to monitor and "actively promote" the independence of the 
electoral commission, electoral transparency, freedom of movement 
and assembly, and freedom of the press per the new Congressional 
reporting requirement for the 2011 elections. Perceptions and 
trends relating to Uganda's preparations for the elections are not 
encouraging, but there is still time to put the elections on track. 
Although Oryem's justifications were as predictable as they were 
disappointing, we believe our message will filter up to President 
Museveni and down to the police and others responsible for making 
every day decisions related to Uganda's 2011 electoral process. 
 
 
 
 12. (C) On anti-homosexuality issue, Oryem reinforced recent 
appeals by President Museveni and Foreign Minister Kutesa (refs C 
and D) to give Uganda the political and rhetorical space needed to 
address the bill internally. However, as the GOU finally starts to 
grapple with the bill, it remains unclear whether Cabinet intends 
to drop the bill altogether, as President Museveni and Foreign 
Minister Kutesa have implied , or seek a middle ground by allowing 
it to move forward without the death penalty and reporting 
requirements. 
LANIER