Electing Kutesa, Gen. Museveni's Top Spokesperson UN General Assembly President Would Reward Corruption, Tyranny And Homophobia

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Sam Kutesa

[Publisher's Commentary]

Who says corruption, tyranny, presidential bigotry and homophobic hate-mongering don't pay?

Unless the Global community wakes up immediately the Ugandan dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni who recently signed a new law condemning gays to life in prison will be rewarded when the United Nations members elect his top spokesperson, foreign minister Sam Kutesa, President of the UN General Assembly.

The prestigious post based here in New York means Kutesa will preside over major meetings including the General Assembly, which is addressed by world leaders, including President Barack Obama.

This is an outrage considering how Kutesa's boss Gen. Museveni thumbed his nose at world leaders including Obama when he signed the anti-gay hate law in Uganda on February 24 and the continuing corruption scandals and political repression in the country.

In addition to the anti-gay law Uganda earlier passed a law which bans meetings of more than three people without obtaining police approval which is designed to stifle dissent and legitimate political opposition activity. The Stalinist sounding law in Gen. Museveni's increasingly police state is referred to as the Public Order Management law.

As foreign affairs minister Kutesa is Gen. Museveni's top spokesperson to the world including on the bigoted anti-gay law and the Public Order Management. When he signed the anti-gay law Kutesa's boss told CNN gays were "disgusting" and said "what sort of people are they" and "what they do are terrible."

Dictator Museveni's popularity in Uganda is at an all-time low and he hopes the UN Presidency for his henchman would burnish his image.

This follows massive corruption scandals by the First Family, his prime minister and cabinet ministers, including Sam Kutesa. The U.K. already has cut off foreign aid after the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ugandans are also wary of Gen. Museveni's disastrous invasions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, both of which have been defended by Kutesa. After President Obama condemned the invasions of Congo and the support of the brutal militia, M23, which was backed by Gen. Museveni and Rwanda's Gen. Paul Kagame, a United Nations intervention force defeated the insurgents. The leaders of M23 including Sultan Makenga, who is on a U.S. and UN sanctions list, fled to Uganda and Gen. Museveni has refused to hand them over to the International Criminal Court or to Congolese authorities.

Millions of Congolese have perished as a result of the invasions and related wars.

A nation's sovereignty is the most cardinal principle upon which the foundation of the United Nations is based. So how ironic is it that while defending Uganda's repeated violations of this sacrosanct ideal Kutesa now wants to preside over the United Nations?

Why did Museveni and his colleagues, including Kutesa, introduce the anti-gay law even though an anti-homosexual law already exists in Uganda dating back to the British colonial period?

Gen. Museveni faces presidential elections in 2016 against opposition parties that for the first time seem more united than ever. The new united front is demanding for electoral reforms, including an independent election commission; the current hand-picked one by Gen. Museveni merely rubber-stamps his election rigging.

Worried about his prospects, Gen. Museveni needs issues that will stir up popular passions and win him votes in the rural areas where people are relatively conservative, less educated, and more easy to manipulate.

So Gen. Museveni decided to demonize gays in Uganda and to frighten people by having his acolytes claim they were coming to molest their children. He then signed the law even though he had assured former president Bill Clinton and South Africa's retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu that he wouldn't.

Since the signing of the hate-law, there have already been reported attacks against gays in Uganda and many have fled to neighboring countries, including Kenya.

Even if his boss hadn't signed the gay hate-law Kutesa, the co-architect, should be disqualified.

Kutesa is reputed to be one of the most corrupt and wealthiest Ugandan politicians. He has so far survived trial and conviction due to his close ties with Gen. Museveni; his daughter is also married to Gen. Museveni's son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who commands the feared Presidential Guard Brigade and is reputed to be a potential heir to the presidency of Uganda.

As far back as 1999 Kutesa was censured by Uganda's Parliament by a 152 - 94 vote for alleged  "misuse of office and influence peddling" over some fishy financial transactions tied to his dealing with he country's national airline, Uganda Airways, which eventually was liquidated.

More recently he was allegedly involved in the embezzlement of funds allocated by the government to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda in 2007; reportedly in all $150 million disappeared.

Just three years ago, in 2011, Kutesa was then accused together with prime minister Amama Mbabazi and Energy Minister Hilary Onek in Parliament of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from a foreign oil company.

Earlier, then U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier found the allegations convincing enough to propose that the visa of Mbabazi, Kutesa's colleague, be revoked, The Wall Street Journal reported and his 2009 cables published by WikiLeaks show.

But like his boss Gen. Museveni, foreign minister Kutesa is one of the country's untouchables and he has never been tried. The one time a proceeding was initiated a judge threw it out on a "technicality."

How then can the world reward this kind of corruption with a top post? And as Gen. Museveni's top spokesperson and co-architect of the gay hate-law what message would this send to other countries where sexual minorities are similarly being singled for state-sponsored attacks?

Traditionally the post of UN General Assembly presidency, which is held for one year, rotates among the world's five major regions. The current General Assembly President is John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda.  An African candidate is now due and the election is in June; in a matter of weeks.

Cameroon's foreign minister was supposed to be nominated by African countries but he inexplicably withdrew his candidacy and it fell on Uganda.

It's one thing for Gen. Museveni and Kutesa to act with total impunity in Uganda where they are above the law since they control the army.

However the international community is not obligated to reward destructive regional military aggression, dictatorship, corruption, and homophobic bigotry, with the prestigious presidency of the General Assembly.

What immediate action can the U.S. take?

Washington recently refused to grant a Visa to Iran's new designated U.N. representative,  Hamid Aboutalebi, when it was revealed that he had participated in the hostage taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The U.S. must similarly deny a Visa to Kutesa and any representative nominated by Gen. Museveni's regime since they are spokespersons for tyranny, misgovernance and the anti-gay hate law.

It would be an honor for an African to preside over the General Assembly. And Africa can still certainly come up with a candidate most worthy of the position.

However Kutesa's ascension would not only soil the position but would bring shame and disrepute to the United Nations.

All those interested in halting this travesty must take action.

 

 

 

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