KAMPALA – President Yoweri Museveni has delegated Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to represent Uganda at the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly amid question marks over whether the obvious choice, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, is eligible to travel to the US.
The UN General Assembly, began in New York on Tuesday, September 24 and runs up to Sunday, September 29. The official reason is that Mr Museveni delegated Mr Rugunda to represent him as Uganda convenes the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
Under normal procedures, a foreign affairs minister is supposed to represent a president of a country, if the latter is unable to attend. In this case, Mr Kutesa should have attended.
However, diplomatic sources have intimated the President chose to leave out Mr Kutesa amid reports that he faces arrest should step in US over past cases
A US court in 2018 convicted Patrick Ho Chi Ping, the man that the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigations accused of compromising Mr Kutesa with $500,000 (Shs1.8 billion), with bribery.
Mr Ho, 69, allegedly offered the bribe and gifts to President Museveni to secure support for CEFC China Energy, a Shanghai-based rising star in the energy industry.
Mr Ho is alleged to have wired the bribe from HSBC (Hong Kong) account of the energy Non-Government Organization (NGO) to Deutsche Bank in New York on to the account of the Kutesa’s NGO’s account in one of the main commercial banks in Uganda. Kutesa was never charged.
While the ministry of Foreign Affairs later defended Mr Kutesa over the bribery claim, Mr Ho was early this year handed a three-year sentence and fined $400,000 after he was found him guilty by a US court on five counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and two counts of money laundering.
It is believed that Mr Kutesa fears arrest over the matter, the reason he has kept way.
In New York, Dr Rugunda will deliver Uganda’s statement during the plenary, emphasising global peace and security, combating climate cimate change, protecting biodiversity and promoting equitable social and economic development.
He will speak at a series of high-level side meetings organised in the wings of the General Assembly.
Dr Rugunda will hold bilateral meetings with a number of delegations.
A major feature of the Prime Minister’s engagements will be to invite world leaders to attend the South-South Cooperation Summit, which Uganda is hosting early next year.