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US sanctions Uganda’s parliament speaker, her husband and others over corruption and rights abuses

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May 30, 2024

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Uganda’s parliamentary speaker, her husband and several other officials over corruption and serious abuses of human rights.

Parliament Speaker Anita Among was sanctioned “due to involvement in significant corruption tied to her leadership” of Uganda’s national assembly, the U.S. State Department said.

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Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, a former deputy chief of Uganda’s military, was sanctioned over “extrajudicial killings” committed by government troops. Three former government ministers, recently implicated in the theft of roofing sheets that were not distributed to members of an impoverished community, were also sanctioned.

Among, a senior member of Uganda’s ruling party and an ally of President Yoweri Museveni, has been under the spotlight recently over the source of her wealth as well as allegations relating to the misuse of parliamentary resources. The United Kingdom announced sanctions against her last month, citing corruption.

At the center of an ongoing probe ordered by the president, is whether Among owns property in the U.K. that she did not declare to authorities.

The State Department statement said those sanctioned are barred from entering the U.S.

Among’s husband and lawmaker Moses Magogo was also sanctioned. He has been president of the Ugandan soccer federation since 2013. The next men’s World Cup in 2026 is being co-hosted by the United States, with Canada and Mexico, and Magogo would have been be expected to attend the tournament.

Ugandans have been stunned by the revelations about Among’s spending. She has denied the allegations and has claimed she is the victim of a political witch hunt. She says she is being targeted for her role in enacting an anti-gay bill condemned by rights watchdogs and others.

Elwelu and the other sanctioned Ugandans were not immediately available for comment. Elwelu appears to have been targeted for his role as the commander of a 2016 military attack on a tribal king’s palace in which over 100 civilians were killed.

Museveni, who has held power in Uganda since 1986, has long been accused of shielding corrupt but influential officials from criminal prosecution. After his reelection to a sixth term in 2021, he promised to crack down on corruption.

But many Ugandans are not hopeful.

Local media outlets frequently report on corruption issues, but activists, opposition figures and others who try to organize street protests face arrest under a law that requires them to first notify police of any plans to rally.

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