Opinion| Museveni Inauguration | Amateur theatrics; An insult to Africa By Rosa Whitaker

Posted May 20, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 7,885 views



Last week, I watched with dismay as two American diplomats walked out on the inaugural address of a respected African leader who continues to make a major contribution to our shared objectives in the region and who has been a steadfast ally in the battle against global jihadism. Other African leaders attending the ceremony were visibly angered. To see two decades of goodwill built up under Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush so carelessly forfeited was deeply saddening. Having worked for years in both administrations and the Congress to build a strong American partnership with Africa this unprecedented walk-out was personal.

The behavior of our officials reeked of arrogance. It served no US interest and advanced no conceivable strategic goal. America pays for such gratuitous grandstanding with loss of influence in Africa and in multilateral institutions where we need African support.

The target of our diplomats’ abuse was Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. He was being sworn in following his reelection. Although his defeated rivals have challenged the result, his share of the vote as officially tallied — 61 per cent — was entirely in line with what independent polls indicated. This was not a stolen election.
The chairman of the African Union and 14 other African heads of state were present at the swearing-in. Representing the US were deputy assistant secretary of state, Bruce Wharton, and our recently installed ambassador to Kampala, Deborah Malac. Their theatrics, leaders told me, were an insult not just to President Museveni but to all of Africa. The Russian and Chinese delegations were gleeful.

Wharton and Malac gave two reasons for their walk-out: the presence of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and President Museveni’s reference to the International Criminal Court as “a bunch of useless people”. Why did the US follow the EU in this embarrassing walk-out? We followed the EU into Libya, the result — an expanded ISIL.

America’s attitude to the Court is hypocritical. We refused to sign the treaty that established it out of a legitimate concern it would be used against our own people. When I was in government, I had explicit instructions to lobby African countries not to sign. Since when did homage to this Court, whose jurisdiction we reject, become American policy?

In the case of Bashir, we should remember lessons learned in Iraq, Syria and Libya, ousting incumbent leaders, however unlovely, doesn’t inevitably mean change for the better. The unintended consequences have been dire.

Ugandans largely voted for peace and stability, which their government under Museveni has delivered. Predictably, the State Department was peeved by the home arrest of the opposition’s flagbearer. However, his verbal threats to overthrow an elected government through violence would also not be tolerated in the US or any country. A joke about arms at US airports warrants arrest as does a false claim of fire in a movie theater.

What makes the churlishness of our diplomats especially disgraceful is the contempt it shows for the support President Museveni is giving us — and the rest of the international community — to see that Somalia does not become another province of ISIL. Ugandan troops are fighting and dying to stop our enemies from achieving yet another haven from which to attack us.

As saddened as I am by the poor judgement exhibited by the two diplomats, I take comfort knowing that wisdom still prevails elsewhere in Washington, not least on Capitol Hill where the leadership on African issues is particularly strong at the moment on a bipartisan basis. There is not space to mention everyone, but on the House side, I would single out International Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce and Congressmembers Charlie Rangel and Karen Bass; in the other chamber, Senators Chris Koons, Johnny Isakson and Jeff Flake.

America needs internationalists like these who know how to disagree respectfully and secure change through engagement and persuasive argument, as opposed to amateur theatrics.

Rosa Whitaker served as Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa in the Administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and was also a career diplomat with the State Department.

Source — The Hill, Congress Blog

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    I respect Rosa Whittaker’s right to her opinions. However, honest commentary demands full disclosure. Ms. Whittaker forgot to reveal that she was (still is?) a very highly paid Washington DC lobbyist for President Yoweri K. Museveni.


      You got it Dr. Mulera. You very well known lobysim is disguised Western corruption and Whittaker is paid to do what she’s doing. Of course she has to hide her full identity to confuse or misconfuse the uninformed which is of course lobbyst do. She just didn’t forget to reveal that she’s highly paid to mislead the world about a reknown and most feared dictator but fortunately or unfortunately, most of the world know what is going on in Uganda. Thanks to social media.


    Thank you for your comments Rosa Whittaker, what is your opinion about one your party’s leading candidates Donald Trump’s views about removing certain african leaders that he views as dictators from power..

    Omoding Joseph

    Isn’t this the Rosa Whitakker implicated in a US$1.75 billion railway scandal back in Uganda?


    Rosa Whitaker has no business talking on behalf of Uganda people. Her insinuation that this evil man Museveni is a much respected leader, and her leap to the defence a mass murderer like Omar al Bahir who South Sudanese, as well as Darfur people, is frankly beyond comprehension. Rosa Whitaker should stop cashing at the expense of Ugandan people. We know well what she has been up to, and we totally condemn her heartless interfere in the affairs of the suffering Ugandan people.


      Same comment with some edits:

      Rosa Whitaker has no business talking on behalf of Uganda people. Her insinuation that this evil man Museveni is a much respected leader, and her leap to the defence of a mass murderer like Omar al Bahir, who has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of South Sudanese, as well as Darfurian people, is frankly beyond comprehension. Rosa Whitaker should stop cashing in and enriching herself at the expense of Ugandan people. We know very well what she has been up to, and we totally condemn her heartless interfere in the internal affairs of the suffering Ugandan people.


    Dear madam career diplomat,
    Since when did you becomea an expert on Uganda?
    Only naive souls would find substance in your piece.
    Nyabo fyi we know you as one of the regime apologists.
    Funny how you are more catholict than the pope.


    By the way remember your gospel on Agoa!
    I feel like throwing up,excuse my French.
    Typical American hypocrisy


    What Ugandans want is for US and other Western governments not just to walk out because of ICC. We want them to fully disengage from Museveni gangster outfit because of their savage repression and murderous escapades against Ugandan people. So Whitaker, take your nonsense elsewhere. We, Ugandans are in struggle against Museveni barbarism, and we will win this battle with or without America’s help. But what we abhor is for people like Whitaker popping up with all sorts of rubbish – thinking that Ugandan people are so stupid they do not understand what they are up to.


    Is there anyway we can be certain madam “career diplomat” is gettingt this feedback?

    R.martin Byakuleka

    Rosa Whitaker!
    If it were up to honest, principled, and stately politicians; men and women of integrity that put the interest of America at the forefront of their pursuits, the United States of America would be a legitimate leader of the global community. Unfortunately, skewed, self seeking, unprincipled American politicians have often times successfully interrupted the conduct of American foreign affairs, derailing its conduct and adducing enemies, and garnering substantial ill will against the country worldwide. Was there ever Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq?
    It is decent and patriotic for an American to love the USA. It is not intelligent to pursue actions that cause hatred to the USA. Rosa Whitaker is an intelligent lady. Decent people do not do unintelligent things? To energetically support and vociferously promote Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is to insult democracy loving people everywhere; including in Uganda, EU and USA. The EU and every other observer, worth their salt concluded that Uganda’s presidential election of 2016 was anything but fair. Ugandans know that they were robbed of their choice. It is general knowledge that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is the State and the State is Museveni: It is not strange; therefore, that Yoweri Museveni is the legal but illegitimate president of Uganda. Rosa Whitaker, if Museveni won Ugandan presidential elections in February 2016, perhaps Iraq had WMDs!
    Museveni has intimidated and cowed ordinary Ugandans into quiescence; harassed and forced most of their leaders into submission; and paid off most dissenting elites. The only adulation for Museveni comes from people that economically benefit from his presidency. And such people are not decent; they are unpatriotic and unprincipled self seekers. Decent and patriotic people are the likes of Ambassador Deborah Malac and the EU diplomats who walked away when Museveni belittled the ICC. Such people have the presence of mind to know that Museveni does not really love fighting “Jihadists” but the dollar windfall that comes with the effort and the opportunity to forestall Jihadists threats upon his throne. The real insult is to push the Somali envelope and use the American dollar windfall to execute undemocratic things that are meant to keep you in power: American money building dictatorship? What melancholia! International Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Congress members Charles Rangel and Karen Bass, Senators Chris Koons, Johnny Isakson and Jeff Flake “internationalists … who know how to disagree respectfully and secure change through engagement and persuasive argument … “ surely cannot accept such a situation.
    On the swearing in occasion Museveni, who spoke in Luganda and English to purposefully obfuscate his message, heaped praise upon the Russians and Chinese while pushing the USA under the bus (in reference to Ambassador Malac’s spirited criticism he insinuated that only a fool can tell a family head how to run their family); he hailed the two erstwhile friends for their “good manners” since they do not interfere in the internal affairs of friendly countries; berated the US for attempting to steal “our uranium” yet we need it to produce electricity (Rosa Whitaker, remember the Ayatollah in Iran?).
    Rosa Whitaker can still be a friend of Uganda by appealing to her decency and honesty. There is still a lot of money to be made for a long time.


    Am sorry but, Who is this annoying woman and what is she, her name doesn’t sound Ugandan and therefore has no business in speaking for Ugandans and African affairs, she obviously has no clue. Please miss Whitaker show us some respect and read up or talk to Africans and Ugandans before you become our voice. Best to myob and stay out of ours!


    Rosa Whitaker, Your narrative seems UNethical, how on earth can you condemn those that have perhaps a proper sense of good governance that Ugandans are yearning for.
    The statement Uganda voted for peace and stability is a clear insult to most Ugandans, what peace is it you are talking about that isn’t absolute? (Check out Mobutu of DRC)
    As a lobbyist, focus on what would uplift the Whitaker group in appropriate terms and do not dehumanize Ugandans
    Ugandans for sure know what they want and usually will be supportive of those who appreciate their cause. As Ugandan chose to follow the democratic principles, so should be to those who try to applause Uganda. The hope by many is to see Uganda judged on democratic values where, a rightly elected/selected candidature undertakes office, works by the mandate of the people and live for the people.
    Relationships skewed on exploitative/personal gain are worthless. With good governance and adherence to better bi-lateral relations, policies between Uganda and America can still exist even with the change of governance and that’s what Ugandans are looking for.
    We hence ought to be lectured on developmental matters than issues we know best facing our mother land.

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