In The Observer of June 25-26 under the section of Wolokoso (Foreign minister messes up diplomatic decorum) reported that during a ceremony to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee and birthday, I kept referring to the British High Commissioner Mr Martin Shearman as ambassador of Britain in Uganda, therefore embarrassing the country and coming off as someone who did not understand diplomatic etiquette.
This was utterly false and my reputation has been injured as a result. To set the record straight, below is the short speech I made at the function:
Your Excellency Martin Shearman, the British High Commissioner and Mrs Shearman, honourable ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I have the great honour and pleasure of representing the government and people of Uganda on this auspicious occasion when we celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
This year's commemoration especially, represents an extraordinary celebration of the rich life and exemplary service of [one of] the world's longest serving monarchs. As a member of the vibrant family of the Commonwealth, Uganda happily joined the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth community to celebrate 60 years of what can only be described as graceful, dignified, dedicated and resilient leadership by Her Majesty through the decades, some full of peace, some fraught with tumult and conflict.
The huge turnout of people on the streets of London that we witnessed through the media early this month, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, attests to the special place that Her Majesty holds in the hearts of countless numbers of people, home and abroad.
Your Excellency, as mentioned earlier, Uganda and the UK enjoy a unique and special relationship under the framework of the Commonwealth. Our relations are historical and in the UK, Uganda can claim to have a friend.
The government and the people of Uganda appreciate your government's bilateral and multilateral interventions in various aspects of our development programmes. The UK, through the Department for International Development, is certainly one of our largest and most instrumental development partners. Our partnership, therefore, in the achievement of the millennium development goals is of tremendous importance.
Your interventions in the health, education, humanitarian assistance sectors, to mention but a few, have contributed to much-needed efficient service delivery. We have witnessed tremendous improvement in the lives of many Ugandan females through your intervention in a core aspect of our health sector, specifically, maternal and reproductive health.
We commend your multi-dimensional partnerships with the private sector that have been instrumental in strengthening Uganda's economy. I also take this opportunity to convey our gratitude for your country's commitment to the ongoing recovery and development activities in Northern Uganda, a region that suffered decades of violent conflict.
Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we commemorate an important milestone in Her Majesty's life, we are faced with challenges that pose a threat to sustainable peace in the years ahead.
Issues like job creation amidst tough economic times, especially with a fast-growing youth population, climate change amidst increasing pressure on available limited resources, accountability and transparency in service delivery, are some of the challenges, that are not unique to Uganda alone, but to the rest of the world too.
We therefore welcome even deeper partnerships and intervention to help contain these threats for the sustainable development of our country. Ladies and gentleman, may I now propose a toast to the good health of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to the flourishing friendship between the government and the people of Uganda and Her Majesty's government.
I thank you.
The author is minister of state for Foreign Affairs/Regional Cooperation and MP for Bugabula South.