Thursday, 20 March 2014

No US aid cut in response to Uganda gay law



PHOTO | FILE Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni speaks to the press in Juba on December 30, 2013. The United States has not cut any aid to Uganda in response to the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Law, the State Department said on Wednesday.
 PHOTO | FILE Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni speaks to the press in Juba on December 30, 2013. The United States has not cut any aid to Uganda in response to the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Law, the State Department said on Wednesday.


The United States has not cut any aid to Uganda in response to the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Law, the State Department said on Wednesday.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki clarified earlier statements suggesting the US was withholding a small amount of funding related to the salaries of 18 Ugandan health officials.
The US actually stopped paying stipends for extra work by the officials beginning in January — a month prior to enactment of the anti-gay legislation, Ms Psaki said on Wednesday.
“This was an ongoing process before the signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” she told reporters.
Asked whether any US aid to Uganda has been reduced, Ms Psaki replied that the Obama administration is continuing to take “a thoughtful, deliberate look at next steps in light of the enactment of the law.”
Her comments indicate that the US has yet to take punitive actions of the sort announced by the World Bank and a few European countries, despite President Obama's warning last month that the anti-gay law will “complicate” Washington's relations with Kampala.
US reluctance to reduce its $400 million a year in aid to Uganda highlights the country's importance for Washington's efforts to promote security in East Africa.
The Obama administration is thus unlikely to heed a call on Wednesday by Human Rights Watch for cuts in security funding to Uganda.
"There's been a lot of condemnatory statements. The time has kind of passed for that," Human Rights Watch official Sarah Margon told Voice of America.
"The US needs to actually take some concrete actions. One of the things we've been talking about is looking at US assistance to the police and security forces, given that they are going to be the ones tasked with implementing the law."
State Department plans to arrange discussions between Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and a team of experts on homosexuality are at a “preliminary” stage, Ms Psaki said on Wednesday.
No information is available on who would join the team or when it might travel to Uganda, she added.