Uganda Seeks to Attract U.S. Trade, Aid; Museveni Cites Pursuit of Democratic Objectives, Efforts to Fight Terror, AIDS

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 12, 2003 | Go to article overview

Uganda Seeks to Attract U.S. Trade, Aid; Museveni Cites Pursuit of Democratic Objectives, Efforts to Fight Terror, AIDS


Byline: Sharon Behn, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is in Washington this week meeting with U.S. government and business leaders. On Tuesday, he met with President Bush in the Oval Office, and the two presidents were later entertained as the Watoto Children's Choir of Uganda sang and danced for them in the Rose Garden. The children were orphaned by AIDS. Mr. Bush has cited Uganda as a model for how increased U.S. aid to fight the disease should be spent. Later, Mr. Museveni was interviewed by reporter Sharon Behn of The Washington Times.

Question: Terrorism has hit East Africa particularly hard, and in late May, the British and American governments placed Uganda on a terrorism threat list. How is Uganda dealing with this problem?

Answer: We were among the first to be targeted by terrorism, and we treated it many years ago. You know we have a border with Sudan, and since 1986, Sudan launched two types of terrorists against us. First, they launched the rural-based terrorists who are targeting the population. We have contained that threat over rural terrorism. Then, in 1996, they launched urban terrorism, which we have defeated. Therefore, yes, there is terrorism in the region, but we have evolved a strong capacity to defeat it and cope with it.

Q: Are you coordinating with the United States, asking you to work with them regarding intelligence on international terrorism?

A: We always work together with the United States and other peace-loving countries in the world who don't believe in the use of terrorism as a method of influencing events.

Q: Are you training or about to begin training counterterrorism forces?

A: We have them.

Q: I understand you are here to talk about trade and investments in Uganda. At the recent Group of Eight meeting, African leaders were given the promise of increased aid, but G-8 leaders also demanded proof of economic stability and the promotion of democracy. What steps are you taking to achieve these objectives?

A: The objectives of democracy are our objectives. They are not the objectives of the donors. We fought for many years in order to bring democracy about, and we have been having a democratic system for many years now. The form was slightly different from the forms in the West, but it was thoroughly democratic, and now we are going into a more Western type of democracy. So the question of governance is not a problem for us. This was resolved long ago.

Q: And how do you feel it would be best to attract more trade and aid? And which do you feel is more important to Uganda right now?

A: Trade is more important than aid. Aid is only important if it is together with trade. Otherwise, aid by itself is useless and even counterproductive.

Q: And how do you hope to attract more trade during this visit?

A: Oh, by proving that I can supply them with good-quality goods at a lower price than what they are paying.

Q: Are you meeting with private businessmen?

A: Oh, yes. I don't want to talk about them without their prior consent. But Uganda is a very rich country in terms of natural resources. The only problem is that we sell them in the raw form and we lose money by a factor of 1-to-10. That's what we want to end. We want to export finished products rather than raw materials, and we want investments for that.

Q: You spoke about democracy and how you have a slightly different system in Uganda. You have now been in power 17 years. In the next elections, would you consider seeking another term?

A: That is speculation. We have a constitution, and we go by it. So I do not want to be involved in speculation.

Q: The political system that you have, you said it was beginning to evolve. Can you tell me more about how it is evolving?

A: Yes, our movement has recommended that we open for interorganization, an interparty constitution. …

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