22 November 2017

Uganda: Kutesa Told to Resign

Photo: Daily Monitor
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa

Kampala — Seven Members of Parliament (MPs) say Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa should resign, now that he is again accused of corruption.

This follows reports that Mr Kutesa in 2016 asked for and received a Shs1.8 billion bribe from Chi Ping Patrick Ho, a Chinese national.

In return, Mr Kutesa was to help a Chinese energy company to secure contracts and ventures in Uganda's energy and financial sectors.

During a press conference on Wednesday, November 22 in Kampala, the MPs said that given the allegations against Mr Kutesa, he risks arrest should he travel to the US.

"President Museveni and Kutesa should resign and give Ugandans a chance to cleanse their country," Mr Gerald Karuhanga, Ntungamo Municipality MP, said.

"Soon, we might hear of arrest warrants probably for our President and Kutesa. They will be fugitives."

Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo added: "I challenge Kutesa... let us travel to Washington (US). Let us see if he will be able to leave Washington. He will not. He is wanted."

The other MPs at the press conference were John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County), Nabilah Nagayi (Kampala Woman Representative), Patrick Nsamba (Kassanda North), Monicah Amoding (Kumi Municality), Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West) and James Kaberuka (Kinkizi West).

The complaint against Mr Ho says Mr Museveni received gifts, a claim Mr Museveni's Senior Press Secretary Don Wanyama has dismissed.

Mr Kutesa is currently in Europe on official duty. It is not clear when he will fly back to Uganda.

The charges against him could not have come at a worse time.

Early this month, the Paradise Papers, a reporting project coordinated by the US-based International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ), reported that Mr Kutesa set up two offshore entities Obuyonza Discretionary Trust and Katonga Investments Limited in Seychelles.

Away from the Paradise Papers, Mr Kutesa has always had accusations of corruption swirling around his head.

The House Public Accounts Committee in March 2010 questioned him over accusations that he and Works and Transport minister John Nasasira had peddled influence to award a Shs9 billion contract for 30 cars to be used to transport guests who would attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which Uganda hosted in November 2007.

Mr Kutesa claimed then that it was President Museveni who decided thus, a defence PAC disputed, saying the President had actually questioned the procurement.

The matter ended up in Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala.

And in October 2011, Mr Kutesa, Mr Nasasira and Mwesigwa Rukutana resigned their positions as their trial started.

They said they had resigned to allow the due process of court to take place without interference, the Observer reported.

In November 2012, the court acquitted them.

In 2011, he, alongside the then Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and the then Internal Affairs minister Hilary Onek, was accused of receiving bribes from Tullow Oil to advance its interests in Uganda.

The House committee investigating the matter later absolved them.

Mr Kutesa is President Museveni's brother-in-law; President Museveni's son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba married Charlotte Nankunda Kutesa, one of Mr Kutesa's daughters.

Like President Museveni's brother Caleb Akandwanaho, Mr Kutesa is said to be very influential.

Because of the allegations against Mr Kutesa, some MPs and civil society organisations campaigned against his nomination by Uganda for the UN General Assembly presidency.

Given that he had the government's backing and the support of some crucial states the President lobbied, the MPs and civil societies' kerfuffle did not hinder his ascendance to the UNGA presidency.

It is while he was at the UNGA that he met Mr Ho. Mr Ho is now in US custody. So is a Senegalese diplomat, Cheikh Gadio.

It remains to be seen if Mr Kutesa will heed the MPs' counsel.

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