Uganda’s President Unyielding Following World Bank Funding Suspension Linked to LGBT Law
By Elias Biryabarema
Friday August 11, 2023
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni participated in a session of the Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia on July 28, 2023. (Photo: Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS Host Photo Agency via REUTERS/File Photo)
On Thursday, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda criticized the World Bank’s decision to halt new funding in response to a stringent anti-LGBTQ law and pledged to find alternative sources of credit.
In light of this move, a junior finance minister stated that the country would need to revise its budget to accommodate the potential consequences.
The World Bank announced on Tuesday that the law, which includes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, contradicted its principles. As a result, the institution would pause new funding until it could implement measures to prevent discrimination in its financed projects.
Uganda currently has an existing portfolio of $5.2 billion with the World Bank, and these ongoing projects will not be affected by the suspension.
The anti-LGBTQ law, enacted in May, has faced widespread criticism from both local and international human rights organizations as well as Western governments. However, it remains popular within the country.
Museveni expressed in a statement that Uganda was already attempting to decrease its borrowing and would not succumb to pressure from foreign entities.
“It is regrettable that the World Bank and other actors are attempting to coerce us into abandoning our faith, culture, principles, and sovereignty by using money. They greatly underestimate all Africans,” he remarked.
Museveni emphasized that if Uganda required borrowing, it could explore other sources and that the anticipated commencement of oil production by 2025 would generate additional revenue.
He also expressed hope that the World Bank would reconsider its decision.
On Thursday, Junior Finance Minister Henry Musasizi informed parliament that the government would present a revised 2023-2024 (July-June) budget to account for the potential financial consequences of the funding suspension.
“We will return in approximately one week to request your approval,” Musasizi informed lawmakers.
In response to the law, the United States imposed visa restrictions on certain Ugandan officials in June. President Joe Biden also ordered a review of U.S. aid to Uganda.
Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Hereward Holland, George Obulutsa, Aaron Ross, Bernadette Baum, and Tomasz Janowski