Friday, 28 February 2014

[RwandaLibre] World Bank postpones $90m Uganda loan over anti-gay law


28 February 2014 Last updated at 08:07 ET

World Bank postpones $90m Uganda loan over anti-gay law

The World Bank was set to approve a new project in Uganda to
strengthen its health services

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The World Bank has postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda over its
tough anti-gay law, which has drawn criticism from around the world.

World Bank officials said they wanted to guarantee the projects the
loan was destined to support were not going to be adversely affected
by the law.

The loan was intended to boost Uganda's health services.

Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the World Bank "should
not blackmail its members".

The law, enacted on Monday, strengthens already strict legislation
relating to homosexuals.

It allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated
homosexuality" and also criminalises the "promotion of homosexuality".

'Eliminate discrimination'

The law has been sharply criticised by the West, with donors such as
Denmark and Norway saying they would redirect aid away from the
government to aid agencies.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the law "atrocious". Both
he and South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu compared it to
anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa.

A spokesman for the World Bank said: "We have postponed the project
for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not
be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law."

Anti-gay supporters in Uganda rejoiced when the law was passed on Monday

The loan was supposed to be approved on Thursday to supplement a 2010
loan that focused on maternal health, newborn care and family

The World Bank's action is the largest financial penalty incurred on
the Ugandan authorities since the law went into force.

In an editorial for the Washington Post, World Bank President Jim Yong
Kim warned that legislation restricting sexual rights "can hurt a
country's competitiveness by discouraging multinational companies from
investing or locating their activities in those nations".

He said the World Bank would discuss how such discrimination "would
affect our projects and our gay and lesbian staff members".

In his view, he adds, fighting "to eliminate all institutionalised
discrimination is an urgent task".

But Mr Opondo said not everything the West said was correct and there
should be mutual respect for sovereign states.

"There was a time when the international community believed slave
trade and slavery was cool, that colonialism was cool, that coups
against African governments was cool," he told the BBC.

"I think the best way forward is constructive engagement but... I
think Uganda and Africa in general should stand up to this blackmail."

President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gay bill earlier this week,
despite international criticism.

Ugandan authorities have defended the decision, saying President
Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of
Western pressure and provocation".

Uganda is a very conservative society, where many people oppose homosexuality.

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"Ce dont j’ai le plus peur, c’est des gens qui croient que, du jour au lendemain, on peut prendre une société, lui tordre le cou et en faire une autre."

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“The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”

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