opinionBy Observer Media Ltd
When officials announced last week that Uganda would withdraw from the peace-keeping mission in Somalia, among other regional efforts, in protest at a UN report accusing Kampala of supporting Congolese M23 rebels, the news sent shock-waves across the world.
Uganda is seen as the country which almost singlehandedly restored relative security in volatile Mogadishu having entered Somalia in 2007, and threats to withdraw her estimated 5,000 soldiers had to be taken seriously. But diplomatic sources have told Wolokoso that the announcement made by the Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, was meant to pile pressure on the UN to withdraw the report implicating Uganda in the DR Congo conflict.
Uganda even dispatched its respected "diplomat", ICT minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, to the UN with a protest letter. A statement issued by the government on Saturday about Rugunda's mission says that unless the UN corrects the false accusations, "Uganda's withdrawal from regional peace efforts, including Somalia, CAR, etc. would become inevitable."
And the tactic appears to be working already as according to the statement, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador H. S. Puri, told Rugunda that the report is yet to be considered by the sanctions committee concerning the DR Congo, and that the views expressed by the independent experts do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations. So before you know it, the report will have been withdrawn, or simply not adopted, and it will be business as usual for Uganda's role in the region.
Somalis beg Uganda to stay
The Somali community in Uganda is imploring government not to withdraw her troops from Somalia. The Executive Director of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Hassan Shire Sheikh, fears such withdrawal would allow the insurgents to regroup and reverse the gains so far made, mainly by the Ugandans and Burundians.
"Uganda and other African countries must remain in Somalia and strengthen the security forces before they can pull out," says Hassan Shire.
Rugunda's latest UN task leaves tongues wagging
The choice of ICT minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to lead Uganda's protest against a UN report accusing Kampala of backing the Congolese M23 rebels has left tongues wagging at the Foreign Affairs ministry. Rugunda's consummate negotiation skills and amiable character easily make him the envoy of choice for Uganda.
His record includes bringing the government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army's diabolical leader, Joseph Kony, to the negotiating table, although ultimately the dialogue didn't result in a negotiated end to the northern Uganda conflict.
Rugunda was later called upon to represent Uganda at the UN when the country assumed leadership of the Security Council for one year not too long ago. With his latest assignment, some staff at the ministry of Foreign Affairs are wondering why Rugunda doesn't simply get the job. For one year the ministry didn't have a full cabinet minister after Sam Kutesa stepped aside. He has since returned.
When he was invited to Piato restaurant on Lumumba avenue by his friend, Toro princess Elizabeth Bagaya, for the welcome party of her niece princess Nsemere Komuntale, who is set to get married later this month, Justice G.W. Kanyeihamba came along with copies of his book, 'The blessings and joy of being who you are.'
In the book, Kanyeihamba writes about his humble background, playing his part in the NRM government which he served as minister in various portfolios, and the Judiciary which he served as Supreme Court judge. Kanyeihamba used the occasion to market his book, giving his host, Princess Bagaya, a free autographed copy.
By the end of the event, the retired judge must have sold dozens of the book, including to law students of Makerere University who were given a special rate of Shs 25,000 per copy. Princess Komuntale, the sister of Toro king, Oyo Nyimba, will on November 17 walk down the aisle with her American fiancé, Christopher Thomas.
Minister Najjemba arrives too early to take office
Newly appointed minister of state for Urban Planning, Rosemary Najjemba, last Friday arrived too early for the handover event at her new office along Parliament avenue. Najjemba, who was elegantly dressed and appeared anxious, walked into the board-room as early as 8am for a function which was scheduled for 9am.
She was left to stare at blank walls until the Permanent Secretary, Gabindade Musoke, came to the rescue by inviting her to his office. Wolokoso is not sure whether this was Najjemba keeping time or being nervous.