Charles Schumer, Powerful U.S. Senator, Questions Prospects For Uganda's Kutesa As President Of UN General Assembly

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Senator Charles Schumer

[Editorial Commentary]

An influential U.S. Senator has questioned the prospects of Uganda's foreign minister becoming President of the United Nations General Assembly next month citing the "homophobic legislation recently passed by the Ugandan parliament and signed into law by its president" in a statement released to The Black Star News.

Senator Chuck Schumer says Uganda's anti-Gay law is contrarian to the United Nations charter which "clearly promotes respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."

He says Mr. Kutesa's views "must be known and explained" in the statement issued to this newspaper.

Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) says Uganda's anti-Gay law, which was signed Feb. 14, 2014 by President Yoweri Museveni "is in contradiction to the UN charter and denies equality for members of the LGBT community."

"That’s why the UN should review Mr. Kutesa’s participation in, and views on, such legislation," senator Schumer's statement also reads. Schumer is the Senior Senator from New York and is Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

At the time he signed the anti-Gay law Gen. Museveni referred to them as "disgusting."

The Black Star News in a series of editorials has also called for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke Mr. Kutesa's visa to prevent him from becoming President of the General Assembly and explained why he's unsuited for the high profile post.

Eleven Africans previously have been President of the General Assembly including distinguished diplomats like Liberia's Angie Brooks and Tanzania's Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, later a prime minister.

The Black Star's editorial comments have been linked to an online petition drive which has now garnered 473 signatures as of today, opposing Mr. Kutesa's candidacy.

The editorials cite Uganda's numerous invasions of neighboring countries -- Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan-- in violation of the United Nation's cardinal principles of: respect for national sovereignty; national territorial integrity; and non aggression against other nation  states.

In 2005 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also referred to as the World Court, found Uganda liable for the aggression against Congo and the loss of lives and property. The court awarded Congo $6 billion - $10 billion, which has not yet been paid. The Wall Street Journal also reported on June 8, 2006, that Gen. Museveni, Mr. Kutesa's boss, perhaps fearing criminal indictment,  asked then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to block an International Criminal Court investigation, which had been launched, in connection to the alleged crimes by Uganda in Congo.

Estimates of Congolese who have perished as a result of multiple invasions from her neighbors exceeds 6 million.

Mr. Kutesa has also been linked to several corruption allegations involving tens of millions of dollars.

On March 4, 1999 he was censured by Uganda's Parliament after a debate on the floor for corruption.

Mr. Kutesa was later implicated in a major corruption scandal involving the disappearance of a reported $150 million in public funds when Uganda hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007.

In 2009, Kutesa was mentioned in a memo to the State Department by then U.S. ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier, as one of three powerful ministers who Gen. Museveni was unwilling to hold accountable on corruption allegations.

In 2011, Kutesa was also one of three ministers accused in Uganda's Parliament of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from a foreign oil company seeking favorable terms as Uganda gets ready to start producing oil.

When Mr. Kutesa was questioned earlier this week by Radio France International (RFI) over the online petition campaign against his candidacy, without elaboration, he said: "I’ve heard that, but that’s nothing, I’m not bothered by that because it’s incorrect. It’s a lie so I’m not bothered by that."

The U.S. Department of State did not respond to a call and e-mail message seeking comment on Senator Schumer's statement by deadline this evening.

Similarly, a spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, did not respond to a call and e-mail message seeking comment by deadline.

Senator Schumer's complete statement reads:

“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.”—U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

 

 

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