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Uganda president defiant after World Bank suspends funding over LGBT law

A session of the Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg

By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA (Reuters) -Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday denounced the World Bank's decision to suspend new funding in response to a harsh anti-LGBTQ law and vowed to find alternative sources of credit.

The country would have to revise its budget to absorb the move's potential impact, a junior finance minister said.

The World Bank said on Tuesday that the law, which imposes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, contradicted its values and that it would pause new funding until it could test measures to prevent discrimination in projects it finances.

The World Bank has an existing portfolio of $5.2 billion in Uganda, although these projects will not be affected.

The anti-LGBTQ law, enacted in May, has drawn widespread criticism from local and international rights organisations and Western governments, though it is popular domestically.

Museveni said in a statement that Uganda was trying to reduce borrowing in any case and would not give in to pressure from foreign institutions.

"It is, therefore, unfortunate that the World Bank and other actors dare to want to coerce us into abandoning our faith, culture, principles and sovereignty, using money. They really underestimate all Africans," he said.

Museveni said that if Uganda needed to borrow, it could tap other sources, and that oil production expected to start by 2025 would provide additional revenues.

He added he hoped the World Bank would reconsider its decision.

The government will ask parliament to vote through a revised 2023-2024 (July-June) budget to reflect the potential financial impact of the lending suspension, junior finance minister Henry Musasizi told parliament on Thursday.

"We shall be coming in one week or so... to ask for your approval," Musasizi told lawmakers.

In June, the United States imposed visa restrictions on some Ugandan officials in response to the law. President Joe Biden also ordered a review of U.S. aid to Uganda.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Hereward Holland, George Obulutsa, Aaron Ross, Bernadette Baum and Tomasz Janowski)