24 February 2014

Uganda: Excerpt from the U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Uganda, Egypt

Photo: Amy Fallon/IPS
Uganda’s inadequate road infrastructure has been blamed from the increased traffic congestion in the country, especially in the capital, Kampala

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Excerpt from the U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing

Uganda

QUESTION: Uganda?

MS. PSAKI: You've been very patient. Yes, of course.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary had any direct conversations with President Museveni over signing the anti-homosexuality bill today? And if so, what sort of - can you talk a little bit about some of the nature of those conversations if he has indeed had them with him?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have any calls from the Secretary to read out for you. I don't know if you've been able - if you've seen - I know it came out right before we came down here - the statement we put out from the Secretary. And let me just highlight a few points of that, if you don't mind, for other folks who may not have seen it yet.

The statement from him expressed our deep disappointment in the enactment of the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations. I'd also make clear that now that the law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our antidiscrimination policies and principles, and reflect our values.

So I'm happy to check back and see if there have been other calls that I'm not aware of since I came down --

QUESTION: When you say - when the Secretary says internal review of our relationship, does that mean something like cutting aid as the Dutch Government has done today, or you're calling the ambassador, or even sanctions? What would that specifically mean?

MS. PSAKI: Just - because this just happened, the review means a range of things. And I don't want to outline all the specifics at this point, but it means we're considering a range of steps.

QUESTION: Including those three things?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Certainly, we're looking at a range of options.

QUESTION: And final question: Do you know how much per year the U.S. gives to Uganda in terms of aid? I know that there's been some security --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- funding with what's been going on with the Lord's Liberation Army in Central African Republic, and --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. That is a good question, and I've had that in the past. Let us venture to get that to you right after the briefing. And on an annual basis you're looking for, assumably?

QUESTION: Yeah. Exactly.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Egypt

MS. PSAKI: Nicolas.

QUESTION: Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Egypt.

QUESTION: Do you have some clarity or at least an explanation regarding the surprise resignation of the government today? And do you see that as a preparation ground for Marshal Sisi to contest the presidential election?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you mentioned, Nicolas, this just happened today. We don't have details on the announcement that a new government will be named under a new prime minister. Obviously, we're watching it closely. We are reaching out to our Egyptian counterparts. Of course, this step was unexpected, so we're looking to obtain information on it.

Our focus, of course, remains on pressing and encouraging Egypt to take steps forward that will advance an inclusive transition process that leads to a democratic civilian-led government selected through a credible and transparent elections process. In terms of what it means, I know there have been a range of comments made on the ground, but we don't have any additional analysis from the United States Government.

QUESTION: So you don't see this as a prelude to Field Marshal Sisi running for president?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that announcement hasn't been made. Obviously, it's up to the people of Egypt to determine who will lead their country in the future, but I don't have any additional analysis on the meaning at this point.

QUESTION: Would you be annoyed if Field Marshal Sisi sort of nominated himself for elections and perhaps win?

MS. PSAKI: I'm not going to entertain that hypothetical question, and again, no announcement has been made at this point.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, please. Regarding this resignation of the government --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and your contacts - what level of contact? Because if it's supposed to be your counterpart already resigned with the government, what kind of contacts you have?

MS. PSAKI: With officials in Egypt?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Well, over time we've been in touch with a broad range of officials both on the ground - you may have seen that Secretary Hagel spoke with Defense Minister al-Sisi this weekend, but our officials on the ground remain in close touch with a range of officials.

QUESTION: The other question is related to Secretary Kerry's response to one of the questions that when you were in Tunisia, I think.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: And it's regarding his being in touch or his hope to go and visit Egypt. Is there any plan in this --

MS. PSAKI: I have no plans to announce. As you know, he was there last fall. And certainly he, just like every official in the United States Government, has a deep commitment to our longstanding relationship with Egypt, but I don't have any trip or plans to announce at this point.

QUESTION: The other question related, your contacts, because if for a while there is no ambassador there, as a matter of fact --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and even the person was acting and he left the position. He is - somebody is in charge of his position or his duties. Is there any plan - I know just you may say it's coming from the White House, but --

MS. PSAKI: I may say that. You're right. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is there any somehow to be in touch with the - I mean, there is a plan or something going on to appoint as a matter of fact because there is no ambassador and there is no consul general in Alexandria? I mean --

MS. PSAKI: Well, a couple pieces. I mean, we certainly still do have a senior team on the ground in Egypt, in Cairo. As you know, the former ambassador, we stole her for lack of a better term, to become the assistant secretary for NEA here. But there is a strong senior team on the ground now. On - in terms of Alexandria, I think you're confusing that as related to the Travel Alert that's been underway in Egypt, and specifically kind of where the efforts that have been underway to update some of the security in certain parts of the country.

QUESTION: So who's running the shop in the - at the U.S. Embassy? Is it David Satterfield? He left, I assume.

QUESTION: He left.

QUESTION: So who is in charge of the U.S. Embassy?

MS. PSAKI: We have a range of officials, Said, who are in charge. I'm happy to get you a list of our senior team in Egypt.

Lucas?

QUESTION: No, can I --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

QUESTION: So who's running the shop in Egypt, then? I mean, who are you all dealing with?

MS. PSAKI: You mean in the Egyptian Government?

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, this announcement just happened today. And so we're still - we don't have any analysis at this point in terms of what it means and what steps will be undertaken. President Mansour, I believe, still is in place. There are some other officials that are still in place. It referred to the resignation of some cabinet officials, but in terms of what it means, we're still taking a look at that. And we have been in touch through this transition with a wide range of officials, given they're moving towards a democratic election and they're not quite there yet. So --

QUESTION: Okay.

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