Besigye to address UN Rights Council in Geneva

Saturday October 22 2016

Ugandan politician Dr Kizza Besigye has again travelled abroad two weeks after his return from a month long stay in the UK.

His travel to the West last Monday points to growing international stature for the four-time presidential challenger who, just five years ago, was viewed as a sour loser by the diplomatic corps in Kampala.

Dr Besigye is scheduled to have meetings with the World Bank which recently withheld new lending worth about $1.5 billion (Ush5 trillion) to Uganda effective August 22. The Bank’s suspension, some analysts say, has the potential to cause a snowball effect on other lenders.

Early this month, a team from the Ministry of Finance was in Washington DC to plead with the Bank to reverse its decision in order to forestall any spillover effects. 
Kampala is currently in the grip of a struggling economy, strained by post-election spending.

The EastAfrican has learnt that a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland is key on his programme.

The Council, under its Universal Periodic Review mechanism, is due to appraise Uganda’s human rights record on November 3.


Under its Complaint Procedure, HRC allows individuals, groups or nongovernmental organisations to bring to its attention human rights violations they claim to be victims of or have reliably proven.

Acceptance of any submission for examination is dependent upon fulfilment of the Council’s 6-point criteria. For instance, it must give “a factual description of the alleged violations, including the rights which are alleged to be violated.”

Besigye has repeatedly suffered different violations, which have been condemned even by the Uganda Human Rights Commission. UHRC is currently handling one of his many complaints, which it says if proven correct constitute a violation of at least 11 of his fundamental rights. 

Kampala has repeatedly been criticised over its human rights record. Last year, the US State Department identified the three most serious human rights problems in Uganda to be: lack of respect for the integrity of the person, restrictions on civil liberties, and violence and discrimination against marginalised groups.   

“President [Yoweri] Museveni’s actions contravene the rule of law and jeopardise Uganda’s democratic progress, threatening Uganda’s future stability and prosperity,” Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative to the UN, told the Security Council on March 21, 2016.

Dr Besigye’s presentation to the HRC will add to other notable appearances he had during his earlier trip abroad. Key among them was one at the Chatham House; the world’s leading think tank.

In a presentation titled “Politics and the Demographic Shift: The Role of the Opposition in Uganda,” Besigye told his UK audience the challenges in the Ugandan economy and society are due to the management of the country’s politics.

The speaking engagements have energised Besigye and his camp, telling reporters on the day he returned that the world is taking keen interest in what is happening in Kampala.

President Yoweri Museveni has not had it easy since the February 18 elections which he extended his rule to 35 years.