Scott Stringer, Comptroller Of New York City, Objects To Ugandan's Bid For Top UN Job

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Comptroller Scott Stringer

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer became the first elected NYC official to raise an objection to the candidacy of Uganda's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa for a top United Nations post.

"As New Yorkers we live by the enduring words of our founding fathers that all men are created equal," Stringer, who is the City's chief fiscal and auditing officer, said in a statement to The Black Star News. "We also share in the vision of the United Nations to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all regardless of race, sex, language, or religion. I urge the United Nations to remain true to its mission of inclusiveness and respect for all for any candidate pursuing a position of leadership at the UN."

As New York City Comptroller Stringer manages the City's $80 billion pension fund and advises the mayor and the City Council on all financial matters, fiscal policy and financial transactions.

On Feb. 14, Uganda's president, Gen. Yoweri Museveni pronounced Gays as "disgusting" after he signed a law that includes a life sentence for members of the LGBT communities and other prison sentences for people who don't out within 24 hours any gays or lesbians, or people who provide them with housing and other services.

There was widespread global condemnation including by President Obama and by Navi Pillay, the United Nations own High Commissioner for Human Rights who said it "would breach international standards."

Representatives of the United Nations' 193 member countries will vote for a new President of the General Assembly to replace outgoing John Ashe of Antigua on June 17. The post rotates between the world's major regions and this year it's Africa's turn to nominate a candidate. Cameroon's foreign affairs minister withdrew his bid last year for the African Union could rally around one candidate, leaving a clearpath for Uganda's Kutesa.

An online campaign asking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke Kutesa's US visa had garnered 2,366 signatures from around the world by this afternoon.

The campaign, in part states:

"As UN GA President, Mr. Kutesa would preside over important meetings including the General Assembly, when you and President Obama attend in the Fall.As you are aware his boss and partner Gen. Yoweri Museveni has now presided over a repressive and brutal dictatorship in Uganda for 28 years.Gen. Museveni's domestic repression in Uganda and multiple invasions of neighboring countries such as Rwanda, DR Congo, and South Sudan have caused the deaths of millions of innocent African civilians.  Congo has been turned into the 'rape' capital of the world by the marauding militias he's trained and financed including M23."

The Petition also states, "Mr. Sam Kutesa, as foreign affairs minister, has been Gen. Museveni's top advisor and spokesperson. He is part and parcel of all these transgressions including the invasion of neighboring countries which is a violation of the United Nation's cardinal rule -- the respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2005 the International Court of Justice found Uganda liable for what amounts to war crimes in Congo (massacres and plunder) as a result of the invasions and occupation of Congo. Uganda was ordered to pay $6 billion to $10 billion in reparations."

The campaign also notes,  "Separately, on June 8, 2006 The Wall Street Journal reported that the International Criminal Court (ICC) also launched it's own criminal investigation linking Gen. Museveni to Congo war crimes and that the Ugandan ruler urged Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General to block the investigation.  Might Kutesa not try to hinder possible investigations in connection to alleged crimes by M23 and by Uganda's army in South Sudan where Uganda and its ally Salva Kiir's army may have used cluster bombs? "

And the campaign adds, "Mr. Kutesa is also reputed to be one of Uganda's most corrupt officials. His name was mentioned in a cable to the U.S. Department of State by former U.S. ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier in which he discussed top Ugandan minister who were allegedly corrupt and who Gen. Museveni would not hold accountable. The October 19, 2009 cables were published on Wikileaks. In a separate Dec. 17, 2009 memo, ambassador Lanier even suggested that Washington should consider revoking the visa of Kutesa's cabinet colleague, then security minister Amama Mbabazi over allegedly receiving bribes from a foreign oil company."

Kutesa's own colleagues in Uganda's Parliament warned over a year ago that his candidacy, given his reputation, would embarrass the East African nation.

Previously U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) also issued strong statements objecting to Kutesa's bid for the Presidency of the General Assembly.

Senator Schumer said: “I am deeply concerned by the homophobic legislation recently passed by the Ugandan parliament and signed into law by its president. The United Nations charter clearly promotes respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion -- and Uganda, right now, clearly does not. That’s why the UN should review Mr. Kutesa’s participation in, and views on, such legislation. As a member of Ugandan President Museveni’s cabinet,  Mr. Kutesa’s views must be known and explained, as this law is in contradiction to the UN charter and denies equality for members of the LGBT community.”

Senator Gillibrand said: “It would be disturbing to see the foreign minister of a country that passed an unjust, harsh and discriminatory law based on sexual orientation preside over the UN General Assembly. The United Nations' mission should remain focused on bringing the world community together rather than embracing divisiveness and intolerance. I urge the UN to raise Uganda’s human rights violations with Mr. Kutesa and stand with Uganda's LGBT community facing injustice and persecution at home."

The General Assembly president's term runs for a one-year period. The president presides over important meetings including the General Assembly in the fall when world leaders, including President Obama, address the annual global gathering.

The U.N. headquarters is located in New York City. 

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