President Museveni and President Mugabe

Why has President Obama refused to allow Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe to attend the upcoming US-Africa summit, but asked Uganda’s anti-gay President Museveni to take part?

Last week, it was revealed that Museveni had been invited to Washington for next month’s summit. This despite White House sanctions, announced just days earlier, restricting travel to the US for those Ugandans associated with LGBT human rights violations

Museveni clearly falls into the category of those who should be affected by the sanctions. It was, after all, his signature on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that ushered in a new era of harsh oppression for Uganda’s LGBT community.

He has also gone on to publicly condemn homosexuality, taken part in a mass anti-gay rally and accused gays and lesbians of recruiting children into homosexuality. All this has resulted in a massive spike in anti-gay arrests, attacks and other homophobic incidents in Uganda.

It appears, however, that this isn’t sufficient to be blacklisted by Obama, unlike Mugabe. On Thursday, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, confirmed that Mugabe had not been asked to attend.

“As you know the deputy chair of SADC (President Mugabe) is on the special designated nationals-the SDN list, the targeted sanctions list,” he told The Herald. “As such, it was the judgement of the White House that it is not appropriate to invite him.”

It would be interesting to learn the criteria for being invited, or not, to the summit. What extremes of human rights abuses are necessary for a leader to be barred from such events? It seems committing heinous crimes against LGBT people is not quite enough.

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