Ugandan president draws protesters’ ire

Peter Kauffner

The University should revoke the honorary doctoral degree and Medal for Distinguished Public Service granted to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in 1994, say followers of Lyndon LaRouche, a former Marxist economist and perennial presidential candidate.
“Museveni is the (Adolf) Hitler of Africa,” said Philip Valenti, a LaRouche supporter who handed out leaflets critical of Museveni at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs last week. “He’s responsible for the genocide that’s been documented pretty thoroughly now in Zaire/Congo.”
Museveni, who seized power with a military coup in 1986, was elected Ugandan president by an overwhelming popular vote last year.
While outlining his plan last April to unite central Africa into a federated state, Museveni told an audience in Kampala, Uganda, that, “As Hitler did to bring together Germany, we should do here.”
The Ugandan leader has recently been accused of assisting the coup in neighboring Congo, which toppled the reigning government last month. That coup unleashed bloody reprisals against Rwandan refugees living on Congolese territory.
The Congo’s new president, Laurent Kabila, is “completely run by Museveni,” said Valenti, who delivered a letter Friday to University President Nils Hasselmo’s office that he said documents the charges against Museveni. University officials said they would review the letter before deciding what action they would take.
But Humphrey Institute Dean Edward Schuh, who nominated Museveni for the honors, isn’t waiting for the University to make a decision. He stands firmly behind the Ugandan president.
“(Museveni) is providing exceptional leadership for Uganda and for other parts of Africa,” Schuh said. “I had a meeting with him (last) Friday afternoon and he’s just doing magnificent things with the economy there.”
The Ugandan economy has grown steadily under Museveni’s control, increasing at a rate of 8.2 percent in 1995-96. Under the previous regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote, Uganda was an economic basket case and a synonym for tyrannical rule.
Schuh said the LaRouche movement has a long-standing vendetta against him that goes back nearly 15 years.
“It seems that once you’re on their list, you never get off it,” he said. “(LaRouche supporters have) trashed my home a couple of times and done quite a bit of physical damage to it. (They) threw rotten eggs against my house. When I lived in a stucco house (they) threw black paint against the front of it.”
In the past, such vandalism has occurred immediately after LaRouche supporters handed out leaflets at the Humphrey Institute, Schuh said. But Schuh’s house was not attacked this time, said Deborah Cran, Schuh’s assistant.
Valenti denies Schuh’s charges. “He has a rich fantasy life. Maybe somebody has been (throwing eggs at Schuh’s house),” he said. “But it’s not me or anyone I know.”
Schuh believes that he was originally targeted for harassment as a result of a series of speeches he made in which he advocated lower federal subsidies for agriculture.
LaRouche claimed that such policies would lead to mass starvation and has repeatedly referred to Schuh as a “genocidist.”
LaRouche, 75, was released from federal prison in 1995 after serving five years of a 15-year sentence for mail fraud and tax conspiracy. Despite the conviction, he retains a small, but well-financed and devoted national following.
LaRouche claims that an “Anglo-American cabal,” headed by former U.S. President George Bush and the British monarchy, is promoting drug trafficking, environmental policies and population control that impoverish and depopulate the Third World.
“One of the interesting things about (LaRouche) is that you can’t say whether he’s coming from the extreme right or the extreme left,” Schuh said. “It’s just confusion mostly.”