Kampala — THE US assistant secretary of state for Africa, Johnny Carson, has said President Yoweri Museveni has not turned into a dictator as he had predicted five years ago.
In an article published in The Boston Globe in May 2005, Carson said "Africa's success story" (Uganda) could return to the dictatorial past if Museveni continued his controversial push for the removal of presidential term limits from the Constitution.
Asked yesterday whether he still held the same view five years later, Carson said: "I don't believe President Museveni is a dictator. He is a president duly elected in a free and fair election."
He added that the US wanted continued strengthening of democratic institutions in Uganda, just like in the rest of Africa.
"It is essential here as in the US to enable people fulfill their social and political ambitions. We don't want to see a collapse or closing down of civil liberties. We do believe that the democratic path in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa should rise and not fall," Carson stated.
"We hope that the election next year will go well," he said.
Carson made the remarks at a press conference held at the US embassy in Kampala. It was attended by his deputy, Cheryl Benton, and US ambassador, Jerry Lanier.
Carson, who has been in the country for the last three days, attending the African Union Summit at Speke Resort Munyonyo, said they had agreed to boost the AMISOM forces and get them enough resources and equipment to fight the militants in Somalia.
He said three nations in west Africa and one from southern Africa had committed themselves to joining AMISOM. He did not name them nor the number of troops that they would contribute.
Burundi and Uganda contributed 6000 troops under AMISOM. Uganda has pledged an additional 2,000 soldiers while Burundi will send 1,300 more troops. The summit also agreed to change the mandate of the troops to make them more robust.
Carson urged the international community not to look at the crisis in Somalia as "a US project" but an international problem.
"Somalia has played host to extremists who can launch bomb attacks as was seen on July 11," he pointed out, adding that the attacks were a wake up call for Africa to respond to the crisis in Somalia.
Twin bomb attacks ripped the Rugby Club in Lugogo and the Ethiopian Village in Kabalagala, killing over 75 World Cup football fans.
Carson advised that the international policy on Somalia should be long term with consistency, commitment and resolve.
He argued that reference to Somalia under the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in 2006 as a period of calm was wrong because it was "a period of ruthless and brutal punishment", where human rights were abused.