The US deputy Secretary of State Ambassador William Burns, is leading a high profile delegation to Uganda on Friday to discuss human rights with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
The delegation is also understood to deliberate on a range of bilateral issues, including regional security and good governance with the Ugandan government.
Ambassador Burns is the top most Obama administration official to visit Uganda after Maria Otero, the under-secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. As Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Carson visited in 2011.
Washington has on numerous occasions expressed unease with the deteriorating Ugandan human rights situation, including the infamous Anti Homosexuality Bill that seeks a death penalty for homosexuals. President Obama has referred to the bill as “odious,” and has pledged US support for gay rights in Uganda. Ambassador Carson said the US would speak out “forcefully” against the bill.
The delegation’s visit comes a day after Uganda’s LGBTI community marked the murder of gay rights activist David Kato on January 26, with a remembrance service in his honour in Kampala.
A statement announcing the four-nation Africa tour by the team and released by the Department of State noted, “In Uganda, deputy Secretary Burns’ discussions with President Museveni and members of Uganda’s civil society will highlight the strength of the bilateral partnership on a range of issues, including regional security and on helping Uganda strengthen its commitment to good governance and respect for human rights.”
Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper reported today that last November, Department of State Spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, issued a statement highlighting Washington’s unease over “Uganda’s deteriorating human rights record”.
While on the Ugandan leg of the four-nation tour, the team plans to visit a medical clinic in Entebbe that officials say is “advancing integrated health service delivery, a key part of the US Global Health Initiative”.