KAMPALA, Mar 1 – 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.
“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.
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.
Museveni has been in power for 28 years, a record in East Africa.
Opondo argued in another tweet that the bank’s “so called ‘cut’ is attempted blackmail to set Ugandans against their government.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who earlier this week likened the law to anti Semitism in Nazi Germany, Thursday called the Ugandan leader to express Washington’s “deep disappointment” about the legislation.
He “noted that the decision complicates the US relationship with Uganda. He also raised US concerns that this discriminatory law poses a threat to the safety and security of Uganda’s LGBT community,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“And he urged President Museveni to ensure the safety and protection of all Ugandan citizens.”
The move follows action by Norway and Denmark to freeze or change aid programs for Uganda.
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.