Uganda accuses World Bank of blackmail over anti-gay law

AFP , Friday 28 Feb 2014

Uganda accused the World Bank of blackmail Friday after the lender stalled a $90 million loan over the east African nation's adoption of a draconian anti-gay law.

"World Bank is a multi-lateral institution that should not blackmail its members however small," government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said on Twitter.

The World Bank announced on Thursday that it was blocking the loan, which was intended to help Uganda strengthen its health care system.

Earlier this week, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed off on one of the world's toughest anti-gay laws despite warnings from his Western allies.

Museveni capped his defence of the law -- which could see homosexuals jailed for life and requires people to denounce them -- with a lurid description of his particular revulsion to oral sex.

"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," a World Bank spokesman said.

Opondo argued in another tweet that "this so-called 'cut' is attempted blackmail to set Ugandans against their government."

Museveni has been in power for 28 years, a record in East Africa.

The move follows action by Norway and Denmark to freeze or change aid programs for Uganda and blunt criticism from the United States and Sweden.

US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the new law as akin to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa.

But Opondo replied by accusing the West of attempting to impose its values on Africans.

"Why does the West criminalise polygamy but allow homosexuality if indeed they are defending (freedom of association)," he said.

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