Uganda Watch: Bahati questioned about death of MP; Museveni outlines position on gays

Bahati under scrutiny

David Bahati finds himself in the spotlight again but this time not for his Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Rather he is under some scrutiny over his alleged relationship with a murder suspect. The Observer has the story:

Almost a week after Cerinah Nebanda’s death, David Bahati, the anti-gay bill sponsor, finds himself thrust into the unviable limelight as a person of interest in the death of the Butaleja woman Member of Parliament.

Until now, Bahati was known and has struggled to keep attention on his anti-gay draft legislation that has caused an uproar in the international community.

But on Wednesday, Nebanda’s family fingered Bahati as the link between Cerinah and her alleged boyfriend Adam Kalungi, who is a key suspect and still on the run. Bahati, in a statement issued yesterday, roundly denied that claim. Here is how Bahati’s name came to the fore.

Read the rest of the story at the link above. It appears that President Museveni and Bahati are giving different accounts of Bahati’s knowledge of the suspect.  It is hard to say whether this development will hamper the author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Museveni outlines position on gays

President Yowari Museveni outlined his position on gays in Uganda earlier this week.  At the installation of Catholic Archbishop Ntagali, Museveni said

“I have been telling these people (pro gay activists) that nobody will kill or prosecute them for being homosexual, but there should be no promotion of homosexuality,”

It is not clear what Museveni means by promotion. However, in the current Anti-Homosexuality Bill this section relates to promotion:

13. Promotion of homosexuality.

(1) A person who –

(a) participates in production. procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating, publishing pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality;

(b) funds or sponsors homosexuality or other related activities;

(c) offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality;

(d) uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phones for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality and;

(e) who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices;

commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a line of live thousand currency points or imprisonment of a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years or both fine and imprisonment.

(2) Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a non-governmental organization, on conviction its certificate of registration shall be cancelled and the director or proprietor or promoter shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

The free speech implications of this section are clear. Ugandans will have to watch what they say and it is easy to see how the section could be abused by those in power.


Wikileaks: Uganda's First Lady behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

So says Uganda’s Daily Monitor:

The First Lady Ms Janet Museveni, was behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, US Ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, said in a leaked diplomatic cable.
The revelation was made by Senior Presidential Adviser John Nagenda, during a discussion with a US embassy political officer.
In Mr Lanier’s comments which were leaked on September 1, by whistleblower Wikileaks, Mr Nagenda is quoted to have told the US embassy that President Museveni is “quite intemperate” when it comes to homosexuality, but the First Lady, who he described as ‘a very extreme woman,’ “is ultimately behind the bill.”
Mr Nagenda further told the US government that the bill’s most vociferous public supporter, the ex-Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo, was responsible for a campaign of mass arrests – known by the Swahili term ‘panda gari’ – during the Obote II regime.
Mr Nagenda said Buturo is using the anti-homosexuality legislation to redefine himself and “will do anything in his power to be a populist.” He advised the US and other donors to refrain from publicly condemning the Bill as this fuels the anti-homosexual and anti-western rhetoric of the Bill’s proponents.
When contacted, Mr Nagenda agreed to the contents in the Wikileaks report saying it is a well representation of what he discussed with the US embassy political officer.
“There must be a word here and there which is inaccurate but the overall all spirit of what I said is well represented,” he said. “I had a conversation with the political officer who came to my house and we discussed issues about the homosexuality bill.”

Reading the rest of the article, it appears that President and Mrs. Museveni were at odds on the issue. The President was assuring the U.S. that the bill would be derailed or weakened and Mrs. Museveni was pushing the matter forward.
If these leaks represent reality, it appears that there are powerful forces in Uganda who will work against the bill but do not want to be viewed as favoring gays. Recent Cabinet actions to quash the bill seem to be extensions of Museveni’s promise to the US. The Parliament’s reaction was to declare the bill to be off limits to the Executive branch. With this back drop, it will be interesting to watch who steps up to advocate for and against the bill.