16 January 2019

Uganda: BoU Inquiry - Aol Makes U-Turn, Backs Katuntu

Parliament — The Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Ms Betty Aol Ochan, has accepted Speaker Rebecca Kadaga's decision to authorise Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu to complete the inquiry into the closure of seven banks.

Mr Katuntu will continue to chair the House committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) until February 15.

Ms Aol changed her stance after a "stormy" closed-door meeting with Ms Kadaga yesterday, her deputy Jacob Oulanyah, Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East, Ind) and deputy Opposition Whip Harold Mihindo.

Sources close to the meeting told Daily Monitor that the team, including LoP, who had opposed the extension of Mr Katuntu's leadership, agreed with the Speaker's guidance.

Other sources told this newspaper that Ms Kadaga told Ms Aol and her team that changing the leadership of the inquiry would disorganise the probe since it had reached the tail end of the process.

Addressing a press conference last Thursday, Ms Aol declined to delve into the details but confirmed the meeting and said "there was a decision reached for the good of both, the Opposition and the institution of Parliament."

The LoP said a number of options were explored before a position of compromise was reached.

"We have finished our dialogue and the Speaker will make a pronouncement herself, we have explored a lot of options in dealing with the issue at stake and the best option shall be announced by the Speaker in plenary," Ms Aol said.

"The best option taken will cater for all our interests as Opposition and Parliament as an institution since Cosase is an Opposition led committee," she added.

Ms Aol, however, refuted claims that had started making rounds on social media that the meeting had hit a snag. Whereas the actual outcome of the meeting was yet to be established by press time, Daily Monitor got information that Mr Katuntu will serve up to February 15, five days earlier than had been suggested by the Speaker.

Bank owners before MPs

Meanwhile, owners and directors of the seven closed commercial banks are expected to appear before Cosase today with shareholders. Others will appear next week.

In his new report to Parliament, the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, queried BoU officials on the flaws in the closure of Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), the Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and the controversial sale of Crane Bank Ltd to dfcu (2016) at Shs200b.

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