US Sanctions Ugandan Military Intelligence Chief Over Alleged Abuses

The United States has slammed Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj Gen Abel Kandiho with financial sanctions.

UPDF spokesperson, Brig-Gen Flavia Byekwaso said Maj Kandiho was not given a fair hearing by the USA authorities before announcing what she described as “unilateral financial sanctions.”

Brig Byekwaso said in a statement, “As a country and UPDF in particular, a reputable government institution, we are disappointed that such a decision could be made by a country we consider friendly, a partner and a great ally, without due process and in total disregard of the principle of fair hearing coupled with failure to make the necessary consultation. Going forward, we will be seeking clarification from the United States of America government/ authorities to be able to determine way forward.”

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President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni

Maj Kandiho joins a growing list of Ugandan security chiefs such as former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Maj Gen Kale Kayihur, to be sanctioned by the USA for gross violations of human rights.

He was banned from traveling to the US. His properties and bank accounts are frozen and close family members have been denied visas, among other restrictions.

The sanctions are coming just months after the US Senators on the Committee on Foreign Relations early this year gave the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, up to March 31 to present a detailed analysis of the US-Uganda relationship “informed by an inter-agency review of whether continued partnership” with the regime in Kampala posed risks to Washington’s interests in the region.

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The Senators, James Risch (Republican, Idaho) and Cory Booker (Democrat, Washington), in a March 4 letter to Blinken, said despite repeated calls on the state democracy and human rights abuses in Uganda, the Washington-Kampala relations have “remained largely unchanged for years” while the State Department and Department of Defence  “have generally responded with platitude”  about Kampala regime’s essential contribution to Amisom, managing the South Sudan peace process, and the longstanding partnership on HIV/Aids, and additional East African regional security.

Longtime leader Yoweri Museveni was re-elected to a sixth term with 58.6% of the vote, after a violent election campaign that left over 50 Ugandans dead. Hundreds are still languishing in prisons.

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In the run-up to the elections, security forces routinely broke up opposition rallies with tear gas, bullets, beating and arbitrary detentions.

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