14 December 2012

Uganda: Oil Saga - MPs Hit Back At Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni vowed to resist any foreign interference in Uganda's oil sector. ( Resource: Uganda Focuses On Oil and Gas )

Members of Parliament under the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) have dismissed President Yoweri Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi's allegations that they were bribed by foreign oil companies.

While addressing Parliament on Thursday, the President said he had asked the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to investigate circumstances under which some MPs were paid huge sums of money to push through foreign interests in the Oil Bill.

Describing PFOG led by Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo as a group of saboteurs and agents of foreign interests, the President alleged they had compromised MPs with money ranging from sh1m to sh5m.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament on Friday, Ssekikubo said, "We want to tell Ugandans that in all our deliberations in Parliament, we were under no foreign interests except the interests of Ugandans."

He explained that all the amendments they influenced in the Bill amounting to 98 clauses were aimed at ensuring that all Ugandans benefit from the oil resource.

"The original Bill government had brought wanted to create a national petroleum company owned by individuals and we successful pushed for an amendment to turn it into a state company owned by all Ugandans. Is that pushing for foreign interests?" Ssekikubo argued.

Ssekikubo also told journalists that he had already served the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi with a notice to sue him over his allegations published in a local newspaper that he had received 700,000 dollars to push for foreign interests in the Oil laws.

"I have decided to take to court both Mbabazi and the newspaper to court for defamation. Let him produce evidence that I got that money. Let President Museveni who made similar allegations help him to bring up evidence against me," Ssekikubo said.

Speaking angrily, Bugweri county MP Abdu Katuntu said they (PFOG) the President had made lies since they are the ones who started the oil debate last year in October in a special Parliament session after which they made resolutions which required government to quickly bring the oil laws.

"Before our move last year in October, the President had never addressed the nation any single day on the oil transactions yet he said he started the process in 1986. Even his former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya is one of those who put signatures on the petition to recall parliament from the recess to ask for accountability in the oil transactions. This means even his cabinet ministers were not aware of what was going on," Katuntu explained.

Ndorwa West MP Wilfred Niwagaba said if the President does not adhere to the citizens' voices calling for reconsideration of clause 9 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production Bill), they would either challenge the law in courts of law or push for a referendum on the matter.

"If President Museveni is honest as he claimed, let him publish in the New Vision all the oil production agreements he has signed with the oil companies. Let him tell us how much money in total we have so far received in oil and what it has done. Those are the details we expected from him not his bush war tales," Niwagaba said.

Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu expressed disappointment over MPs like Jim Muhwezi who earlier indicated they opposed the President's position of giving powers to energy minister to grant and revoke oil licenses but voted for the opposite on the voting day.

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