Uganda leader accuses World Bank of coercion after loan freeze

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni criticized the World Bank’s recent move to suspend new funding as a response to an anti-LGBTQ law on Thursday and pledged to seek alternative sources of credit in light of this decision.

The nation would need to adjust its budget to accommodate the potential consequences of this action, according to a junior finance minister.

On Tuesday, the World Bank announced that the law, which enforces the death penalty for specific same-sex acts, goes against its principles. As a result, it will halt new funding until it can implement measures to prevent discrimination in the projects it supports.

The World Bank currently maintains a portfolio of $5.2 billion in Uganda, with assurance that these ongoing projects will not be impacted.

The anti-LGBTQ law, which was passed in May, has faced significant criticism from both local and international rights groups as well as Western governments, despite its popularity within the country.

In a statement, Museveni emphasized that Uganda was already striving to minimize borrowing and would not yield to pressure from foreign institutions.

“It is, therefore, unfortunate that the World Bank and other actors dare to want to coerce us into abandoning our faith, culture, principles and sovereignty, using money. They really underestimate all Africans,” he said.

Museveni expressed that if Uganda required borrowing, it could explore alternative avenues, pointing out that the anticipated commencement of oil production by 2025 would contribute supplementary revenues.

He further expressed his hope that the World Bank would reconsider its stance.

The government plans to present a revised budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 (July-June) to parliament, seeking approval to accommodate the potential financial consequences of the lending suspension, as stated by junior finance minister Henry Musasizi during a parliamentary session on Thursday.

“We shall be coming in one week or so… to ask for your approval,” Musasizi told lawmakers.

In June, certain Ugandan officials faced visa restrictions imposed by the United States in response to the law. President Joe Biden also initiated a review of U.S. assistance to Uganda.

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