Next “Shoe to Drop”: Besigye to Return to Entebbe Wednesday Morning ahead of Museveni Swearing-in

Wednesday morning the Ugandan opposition/protest leader is due to land at Uganda’s international airport at Entebbe. The Museveni government is giving signs of that much less tolerance on the basis of Museveni’s swearing in as his rule extends for another term in its 25th year. Human Rights Watch has issued a report that is sharply critical of the government over violence against protestors, while the EU Election Observation Mission issued their Final Report on the February election on May 6 with a press release that seems more to address the current Walk to Work situation–and in a way that contrasts with the Human Rights Watch criticism–than the actual election. See quotes below.

Great report today from Will Ross in Kampala on BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent: “Would Uganda’s Museveni recognize his former self?”

One obvious question at this point is why the U.S. doesn’t seem to have more ability to influence the Ugandan military in a more professional direction.

“Human Rights Watch pins Government over Killings” in the Daily Monitor:

At least nine unarmed Ugandans were shot dead – many of them in the back – by government security agents in the recent walk-to-work protests despite not being involved in rioting, a new report says. In a report issued yesterday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for a “prompt, independent, and thorough investigation” into the use of lethal force by security forces to counter the protests against the rising cost of living.

“Uganda’s security forces met the recent protests with live fire that killed peaceful demonstrators and even bystanders,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. Supporting the need for an investigation, she added: “For far too long Uganda’s government has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and military.” Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the Professional Standards Unit and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) were investigating all the shooting incidents. “Once there reports have been compiled, the police will be in position to avail details,” she told Daily Monitor last evening. She added that the Masaka shooting suspect was still in custody. “He will be arraigned in court any time from now,” she said, but declined to comment where the force would welcome an independent investigation team from the African Union and the United Nations.

The HRW report was released a few hours before women in civil society organisations marched peacefully and uneventfully through Kampala to protest against the security agencies’ brutal response to the protests that started last month. The women’s march followed a three-day strike by lawyers against the government’s response, which they said infringed on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

EU Election Observation Mission announces release of its final report:

The EU EOM drew up its Final Report independent of any European Union institution. However, it will now fall to the EU’s permanent representation in Uganda to follow up on the issues it raises.

Ambassador Ridolfi said: “The question of the legitimacy of the outcome of the election should not now be under question. Moving forward, what is important is that the government, political parties and civil society establish a peaceful and conducive dialogue inside and outside the parliament. “The European union is concerned about respect for the right to peaceful demonstration, as freedom of speech and assembly are fundamental pillars of any democracy. We call on the protesters to respect the law and conduct themselves in a peaceful manner. The police should act always in a proportionate and impartial fashion.”  Dr Ridolfi added: “On this, the EU is ready to engage positively with political dialogue and development actions.”

The EU EOM was invited by the Government of Uganda and the Uganda Electoral Commission to observe the entire electoral process. Around 120 observers were deployed to the country’s 112 electoral districts.

The EU EOM operates in accordance with the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation” adopted by a number of international bodies involved in election
observation at the United Nations in New York in 2005.

“Why 300 million more people are suddenly poor”–release of “Multidimensional Poverty Index” and Ethiopia

Why 300 million more people are suddenly poor, by Jina Moore at the Christian Science Monitor:

Kigali, Rwanda In November, 300 million more people around the world were suddenly poor – on paper, at least. The latest numbers on poverty from the United Nations, released Nov. 4, include a new measurement for poverty and reveal some surprises.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) raises the number of poor by 21 percent, to more than 1.7 billion. According to the MPI, sub-Saharan Africa is still home to the greatest proportion of the world’s poor, but more than half of the total number of poor lives in South Asia.

These numbers, and the new index that produced them, are part of the UN’s annual Human Development Index (HDI), a statistical touchstone. It covers everything from the number of women who die in childbirth to how many people have Internet access and can sway decisions on US policy, influence where nonprofits spend money, and help determine where donors give.

For years, the HDI has set the standard for just how little a person has to live on to be considered poor. The answer? $1.25. But some researchers have long said income alone doesn’t define poverty.

“There are some things money can’t buy,” says Sabina Alkire, cocreator of the index and director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, which launched the index in collaboration with the UN. “It might not buy electricity; it might not buy a public health system, or an education system.”

Ms. Alkire’s index looks at poverty more experientially. It uses existing survey data and categorizes households as poor if they lack three or more of the 10 poverty indicators, which are spread across health, education, and basic standards of living. “For the first time ever, it measures poverty by looking at the disadvantages poor people experience at the same time,” she says.

Examining more than income changes the equation. It doubles the poor in Ethiopia, where 39 percent of people live on less than $1.25 a day. But 90 percent are “multidimensionally poor,” or lacking at least three of the 10 indicators.

. . . .

Some specialists have raised objections to the new index, including the director of research at the World Bank, which publishes its own income measure for poverty. Among the criticisms is that the measure is still a single standard, even if it looks at many factors.

“If my bosses were to ask for my recommendation on using the MPI as a factor in allocating USAID resources among countries or programs, I would recommend against doing so,” says Don Stillers, an economist for the US Agency for International Development, in an e-mail message. “Rather, I would emphasize the ongoing need to pay attention to evidence on each major dimension of poverty in each country we work in.”

. . . .

Indeed, Alkire of HDI admits her index isn’t perfect. She acknowledges that good data are hard to come by, and not all types of data that researchers want even exist. “These are messy numbers, and comparisons are fraught with danger,” she says. But she also thinks her approach gives existing information more context and helps correct misperceptions.

This seems to me to represent incremental progress in understanding actual living conditions at the type of “overview” level that inevitably influences political decisionmaking and overall public awareness.  While the USAID economist is right about the need to look at specifics country-by-country, comparisons are necessary and inevitable.  The Ethiopia example seems especially useful in evaluating the performance of the Meles regime which claims credit for a significant level of “growth” and seems to use that as political capital with donors to excuse or divert attention from political repression.

Speaking of Ethiopian governance, Meles has attacked the EU Election Observation Mission for its report issued this week on the May election, which he called “trash“.  Thijs Berman, the Chief Observer, responded as reported by VOA:

“If we say 27 percent of the results in the cases we observed had changed between the polling station and the final aggregation, then this is something that warrants a serious investigation about what went wrong and is this something that can be corroborated by other investigations in the rest of the country,” Berman adds.

Tensions about the EU mission have been building, even before the election.  The government had laid down strict rules for conduct of the observers, arguing that a previous EU mission observing the disputed 2005 election had violated its mandate. The government has also criticized the long delay between the May 23 election and the release of the final mission report.

But Berman tells VOA the report was ready months ago.  He says the release was delayed and the report eventually released in Brussels after it became clear he would not be allowed to present it officially to Prime Minister Meles. “In more than 80 missions in more than 50 countries, it has never happened that the inviting government refuses the presentation of the final report before the first, who are entitled to get this information, namely the Ethiopian citizens.  Which is bad for the long-term future of Ethiopia because real stability can only be brought about by improving the democracy in Ethiopia,” he said.

Meles Claims Win in Ethiopia–Preliminary Results Due 9am EDT

Daniel Howden in The Independent with early coverage: “Meles claims election win in Ethiopia despite poll fraud claims”.

The BBC reports that EU observers were “encouraged” by high turnout and relative calm, but will investigate complaints of irregularities. Reuters says preliminary results due at 1500 GMT Monday.