Eritrea-Uganda Bilateral Meeting Missed amid Oil Bribery Scandals in Uganda

Second leg of the ministerial meeting of Eritrea and Uganda was scheduled to be held in Asmara, by the first week of October 2011

By TesfaNews,

Ugandan politics has been rocked lately by a series of mounting corruption scandals, particularly in the country’s nascent oil sector that led to the resignation of three most senior government officials.

Parliament met in an emergency session late on Tuesday last week and called for the country’s prime minister, foreign minister and internal affairs minister to step down while it investigated allegations that millions of dollars in bribes were paid to various officials by a British company Tullow Oil.

While the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi was accused of receiving funds to lobby for oil production rights on behalf of the Italian oil firm ENI, which eventually lost its bid for exploration rights to British firm Tullow Oil; the Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek are both accused of taking bribes from Tullow Oil worth over US$23 million and US$8 million respectively.

Oil production is due to begin as early as 2013, but the country has not put in place a regulatory framework for the oil industry.

As if that is not enough, the country’s anti-graft court throws the ex-vice president Prof. Gilbert Bukenya to Luzira maximum prison after charging him with abuse of power in the award of a deal worth 8.9 million Euros to supply 204 executive vehicles during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting four years ago.

These and the like contagious political debacles together with the opposition’s opportunistic intentions to start their deadly walk-to-work protest in the capital paralyzes the government’s performance both in its domestic and regional tasks.

Among the few high-profile government tasks that was put on hold or postponed until the political play ground in the country leveled was the bilateral cooperation frame-work agreement between Eritrea and Uganda that was signed during President Isaias’ game changer, 3-days state visit two months ago.

According to these signed agreement, the two countries have agreed to hold the second ministerial meeting, headed by Minister Osman Saleh of Eritrea and the now accused and resigned Minister Sam Kutesa of Uganda, in Asmara, by the first week of October 2011, to identify areas of cooperation in regional peace and security, international issues, trade, investment, education, health, civil aviation and communication.

However, as Uganda finds it difficult to recollect itself for the meeting due to the said political developments at home, the first week of October has passed without having the said meeting. This clearly shows the possible postponement of the bilateral meeting to another date.

Taking the new dynamic political chapter created among the two countries into account, we look forward for the meeting to take place anytime sooner so as to enrich those in-depth deliberations for the benefit of the two people and beyond.