A planned pipeline to export oil from Uganda is likely to entrench the long rule of President Yoweri Museveni, opposition figure Bobi Wine said Tuesday, opposing the increasingly controversial project.
Wine, a singer and former lawmaker who ran for president in 2021 is the most prominent Ugandan to object to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline that has run into headwinds as activists pile pressure on France’s TotalEnergies and its Chinese partner to pull out.
The European Union legislature passed a resolution last month urging TotalEnergies to delay work on the pipeline by at least a year, citing rights violations and environmental fears.
Campaigners say the 897-mile (1,443-kilometer) heated pipeline — to link oil fields in western Uganda to neighboring Tanzania’s Indian Ocean port of Tanga — violates the spirit of the Paris climate accord. They are trying to prevent the EU from providing any funds to the project.
Wine, real name Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said last month that he supports the EU Parliament’s stance, drawing anger from some who charged that he’s not sufficiently patriotic.
However, in an interview with the AP Tuesday, Wine denied the charges and asserted that Museveni would be “dangerous” with oil wealth at his disposal, noting that the forced displacement of villagers to make way for the pipeline would mirror his own mistreatment as a political activist.
“As we speak now, there are gross human rights violations that are going on,” he said. “It’s important that we look into that.
Uganda isn’t ready to be an oil exporter with Museveni still in charge, he said.
“Until we have a leader that is accountable to the people until the leadership is transparent and answerable to the people until the leadership that we have is indeed a servant leadership, our oil can wait,” he said.
The oil pipeline is a sensitive issue for Museveni, who once spoke of “my oil” and whose government believes petrodollars will lift many of the country’s 45 million people out of poverty.
Reacting to the resolution by EU lawmakers, Museveni warned last month that if TotalEnergies “choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with.”
Opposition to the pipeline has sparked indignation among other Ugandan officials who say stopping it would injure the country’s economic interests.
Uganda is estimated to have recoverable oil reserves of at least 1.4 billion barrels. TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation said in February that the total investment would be more than $10 billion.