Excerpts from documents published by WikiLeaks:
Summary: Under President Museveni's leadership, Uganda has become a confident and outspoken regional leader through its military role in Somalia (which up to now has preserved the TFG as a moderate alternative to Islamic extremism), its effective campaign against the LRA and its related commitment to rebuild northern Uganda.
Yet the President's autocratic tendencies, as well as Uganda's pervasive corruption, sharpening ethnic divisions, and explosive population growth are eroding Uganda's status as an African success story.
Holding a credible and peaceful presidential election in February 2011 could restore Uganda's image, while failing in that task could lead to domestic political violence and regional instability.
It is too early to tell whether the deadly September 10-12 riots in Kampala are the beginning of a massive and open-ended effort for political change in Uganda, or will lead to a more productive internal dialogue and a stronger democracy. The path of Ugandan politics over the next eighteen months depends largely on the President's vision and leadership.
Your visit will be crucial in conveying US views and policy on Uganda and East Africa, and in raising the President's awareness about how seriously Western governments will be following the course of democracy in Uganda in the coming months.
Elections and Uganda's fading democracy
2. Uganda under President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) has made remarkable progress over the past 23 years. The country has gone from total economic collapse in the aftermath of Idi Amin's despotism to being an African success story, building unprecedented domestic peace, economic growth, and making substantial progress towards democracy.
Yet Museveni and the NRM have not fully embraced multiparty politics or allowed meaningful political alternatives. They are now more entrenched in government and state institutions than during the days of his "no-party" system. The NRM's near total accumulation of power has led to poor governance, corruption, and rising ethnic tensions, a combination that threatens Ugandan "democracy" and stability.
3. Opposition political parties, however, are fractured, politically immature, and greatly outnumbered in Parliament. They control no government ministries, and are not skillful using either press or protest, their primary political tools.
Nor can the opposition provide a coherent and attractive platform of proposals to counter the NRM. And it is by no means clear the opposition would improve governance in Uganda in any way. Currently, a coalition of all but one of Uganda's main opposition parties looks likely to nominate a joint opposition candidate for 2011, probably the leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Kizza Besigye, who lost to Museveni in 2001 and 2006.
This coalition is demanding the dissolution of the partisan Electoral Commission constituted by Museveni, and the acceptance of specific electoral reforms. Since Museveni now appears unlikely to yield on either count, opposition parties and the government seem destined for another turbulent showdown as elections approach in early 2011.
4. Although the press and civil society have enjoyed relative freedom under the NRM, harassment and intimidation of those critical of the Museveni regime has risen in recent years. Up to a dozen journalists and media outlets were charged with sedition and/or shut down by authorities for allegedly inciting recent riots that left up to 27 dead and more than 100 injured.
5. Ethnic tensions, always present in Uganda in varying degrees, have also sharpened as Museveni and politicians on all sides have cultivated ethnic-based support. Tensions among groups residing along the oil-rich shores of Lake Albert flared in August after Museveni suggested restricting elective offices there to one specific ethnic group.
The September riots were sparked in part by Museveni's decision to support a small ethnic group's bid for autonomy within the Buganda Kingdom. The underlying conflict derives from Buganda's persistent attempt for a greater political role, with the ultimate goal of establishing a Bugandan monarchy within the Ugandan state, which Museveni has repeatedly stated he will not allow.
The President's view is that "Kings" are unelected and would lack political accountability. Indeed a semi-autonomous internal state would not only be a political threat to him but could also ultimately threaten Uganda as a unified nation-state. The stalemate over this issue continues, with no resolution in sight.
6. Museveni's heavy-handedness and the corruption of senior leaders have sparked dissent within the NRM. A group of NRM "rebels" consisting of about 15 younger, mostly back-bencher MPs supports opposition demands for an impartial Electoral Commission and is critical of Museveni's unwillingness to hold senior NRM leaders - such as Security Minister Mbabazi, Foreign Minister Kutesa, and Trade Minister Otafiire among others - accountable for corruption allegations. Museveni also faces a challenge from some older party stalwarts - generally the same senior NRM leaders accused of corruption - who fought with him in the "bush war" and want to succeed him as President.
Press reports and anecdotal evidence suggest the President is increasingly isolated and unaware of the depth of resentment both within the NRM and among society as a whole.
7. Our message: Conducting free, fair and peaceful elections in February 2011 would reinforce Uganda's image as an African success story. Failure in this area could relegate Uganda to the list of unstable African nations, seriously jeopardize its future stability, and make it more difficult for the US to continue as a strong security partner. To hold credible elections, Museveni must address the perceived partisanship of the Electoral Commission and make meaningful electoral reform within the next four months.
8. Even if the President begins now to make good faith efforts to hold free and fair elections, he still may be unable to prevent serious, even stability threatening violence around the 2011 elections. The opposition is privately threatening violence and it is difficult to discern what the President could do now that would satisfy the political desires of so many who have been excluded from politics for so long.
December 6, 2007
Summary: Post has considered reftel Horn of Africa MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense systems) Acquisition Engagement and Plan of Action Strategy for Uganda. Mechanisms proposed to help the GOU address counter-proliferation and destruction are feasible and timely. Post is confident that the GOU would welcome greater USG involvement. We have also determined that a Yemen-like acquisition plan could support GOU efforts to control MANPADS proliferation, but do not believe it to be necessary at this point.
There are no political impediments to immediate engagement with GOU officials on the proposed MANPADS strategy. A sucessful strategy would incorporate a larger weapons accountability and destruction program to enlist wider GOU support for MANPADS destruction.
GOU shares counter-proliferation concerns
2. The GOU has demonstrated its willingness to work with the US Government to combat terrorism and further East African security initiatives, particularly in the area of weapons proliferation. Military and civilian authorities, starting with the establishment of the National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2001, have deepened collaboration to tighten arms control regulations and have actively sought international partners to advance objectives.
We therefore believe that the GOU would be receptive to US assistance in drafting export control legislation and determining priorities. Given that the majority of the MANPADS currently in Uganda were purchased by the government, US intervention with the "supply country" might not be welcomed by the GOU. Such action would be considered by some as meddling in internal security matters.
GOU Committed to SA/LW DESTRUCTION; Open to US Engagement
3. The GOU in 2007 worked with SaferAfrica, UNDP, the US, and other international partners to identify and destroy small arms and light weapons stockpiles, including MANPADS.
Minister of Defense Crispus Kiyonga reaffirmed this commitment publicly, and expressed Uganda's desire to work with the US and other international partners to meet the country's obligations under the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the Nairobi Protocol, and the National Action Plan on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
We believe that the GOU would welcome greater US engagement in the area of stockpile management and destruction. However, a more broadly focused assistance package that helps with overall weapons accountability and destruction would likely garner wider GOU support.
Yemen acquisition ?possible
4. A Yemen-like acquisition plan could be reached with the GOU. The primary Ugandan counterpart would be the Ugandan People's Defense Forces. Currently, we do not believe there is black market activity to warrant such a program.
Timing and GOU partners
5. The GOU has demonstrated political will to tighten arms proliferation, combat global terrorism, and push forward on East Africa peace and security initiatives. This commitment suggests that Uganda would be open to immediate engagement.
6. The primary GOU interlocutors would likely be the following:?--Ministry of Defense;?--Uganda People's Defense Force;?--National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons;?--Parliament's Committee on Military and Internal Affairs; and?--Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Pitfalls or challenges to strategy implementation
7. The GOU's military sales relationship with North Korea might hinder engagement. For three years, the GOU has refused to allow us access to its classified budget, which could potentially include the sale of MANPADS by the GOU. CHRITTON
Ugandan prisoner's death was 'blatant case of extrajudicial killing'
December 17, 2009
Summary: The following information responds to reftel questions regarding the 2002 death of Peter Oloya at Gulu Central Prison. In 2003, the Ugandan High Court described Mr Oloya's death as "a blatant case of extra judicial killing." Relying on the testimony of one eyewitness, and the Ugandan government's failure to produce any eyewitnesses or signed affidavits to the contrary, the High Court concluded Oloya was shot on the orders of Lt. Col. Otema. ?Our efforts to investigate the 2002 killing produced no additional information. ?End Summary.
Editor: These are excerpts from the three cables.