Opposition's Kizza Besigye Signs Petition, As Campaign To Block Uganda's Kutesa From United Nations G.A. Presidency Gathers Global Steam

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Uganda's foreign minister Sam Kutesa

[Publisher's Commentary]

A campaign to block Ugandan's foreign affairs minister who faces scores of corruption allegations against him from becoming president of the United Nations General Assembly next month is surging with a petition drive and a column on The Huffingtonpost.

The Huffingtonpost article has been picked up by scores of other websites and other media outlets including The Wall Street Journal. More than 250 people spread all over the world, including Uganda's leading opposition figure, have signed an ongoing-petition on change.org denouncing the prospects of Sam Kutesa, the Ugandan official becoming UN GA president.

Separately, activists in New York are planning further campaigns.

There have been nine General Assembly presidents from the African continent in the history of the U.N. The names range from the legendary Angie Brooks from Liberia and Tanzania's Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, later a prime minister.

"He was formally censured by Uganda's Parliament for corruption and has since been involved in many other scandals," says Dr. Kifefe Kizza-Besigye , the former president of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) a leading Uganda opposition political party who is still a prominent leader.

Dr. Besigye, who posted his comments after signing the petition, was referring to corruption allegations against Kutesa date back to 1999 when he allegedly was involved in diverting public funds in connection with the sale of Uganda Airlines, the national carrier. Kutesa was censured by Uganda's Parliament; the airline eventually collapsed and Kutesa's company ended up as the firm that handles the baggage at Uganda's Entebbe airport.

Kutesa also was accused of involvement in diversion of state funds when Uganda hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007, attended by Queen Elizabeth. Reportedly, $150 million remains unaccounted for; Kutesa was temporarily forced to resign.

The United Kingdom reportedly considered revoking Kutesa's visa privileges as a result of the scandal.

Kutesa's daughter is married to Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who commands the presidential guard brigade and is son of Gen. Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan ruler; it's believed that as a result he's untouchable by Uganda's judicial system. Kutesa was  reinstated as minister as the case against him collapsed on a technicality.

Separately, a Uganda member of Parliament accused Kutesa, prime minister Amama Mbabazi and then energy minister Hilary Onek of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from a foreign oil company interested in Uganda's fledgling industry.

As a result, in 2009 Jerry Lanier, then U.S. ambassador to Uganda wrote a memo to the State Department recommending that Mbabazi's U.S. visa be revoked and also mentioned Kutesa on the same cable later published by Wikileaks.

People who have signed the petition to bar Kutesa's UN bid offered diverse comments, ranging from incredulity to outright disgust.

The petition's signatories reside in scores of countries including: Uganda; the United States; Canada; Switzerland; the United Kingdom; Germany; Congo; the Netherlands; the Phillipines; Australia; and the Sudan.

As of today there were 256 signatories on the petition which is addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and asks him to revoke Kutesa's visa to prevent him from taking the U.N. post.

The U.N. position rotates amongst the world's major regions and this year it's Africa's turn. After Cameroon's foreign minister withdrew his candidacy under mysterious circumstances the African Union then endorsed Kutesa's bid.

"This man is a very corrupt guy and he needs to be stopped," writes Ingrid Turinawe, the FDC's women's leader and a leading human rights fighter.

In opposing Kutesa's bid, Susanna Dodgson, in the U.S. writes, "Because he has blood on his hands," in reference to Uganda's invasions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other neighboring countries.

In 2005 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable for what amounted to war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and The Wall Street Journal reported on June 8, 2006 that Gen. Museveni later asked then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to block a separate criminal investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Julius Peter in Uganda writes, after signing the petition, "Kutesa is a disaster to this nation."

Akampurira Baker, in Uganda, notes "Sam Kutesa's moral character is wanting in his own Country's history books."

"Museveni's brother in Law Kuteesa," writes Mary Kelly, from Australia, " is said to be Richer the than the government of Uganda...through corruption, government office Abuse."

"He has been part of the corruption that has robbed our country of resources that would have uplifted the poor especially children," writes Hilda Nankunda, from the United Kingdom.

"To discourage corruption we need to stop glorifying 'white colar thieves'" says Ben Ocan from Uganda.

"Sam Kutesa is among the untouchable thieves in uganda, he is not fit toUgandaUN given his dented image. He has no moral values or integrity. UN deserves better leaders, Sam Kutesa is not one of them."

"Sam Kutesa has been implicated in far too many scandals, Uganda can do better than him," writes Barbara Allimadi, a leading pro-democracy advocate, from Uganda. "He is part of the brutal regime terrorising Ugandans."

"The UN's reputation is bad enough already," says George Malleck, from the U.S.

"Gen. Museveni is a war criminal and it would be terrible to have someone from his regime hold such a prominent place at the U.N.," writes John Broderick from the U.S.

"Someone whose expertise is disrespect for human rights, corruption and exploitation should be nowhere near the UN Building, let alone part of its assembly as the president," adds Mukisa Kibaya, from the U.S.

"Until Uganda ends gay apartheid, Sam Kutesa must NOT be installed as UN GA," says Soul Dancer, from Hawaii, in the U.S.

James Clark from the U.S. writes: "Sam Kutesa is another face of Uganda's corrupt, violent, gay-hating government, and has no place being President of the UN General Assembly."

"Kutesa is one of the most known corrupt people in Uganda whose reputation has been tainted both nationally and internationally," says Akampurira Sam, from Uganda.  "Allowing him to take this position will not only sink the reputation of this honorable body but will also imply rewarding corruption."

"I believe that basing on the corruption scandals he should be denied the opportunity but matters extending to the anti Gay bill are not detrimental as per the petition since its all backed up by Ugandans," says Lule Ramzan, from Uganda.

"The Genocide in Democratic Republic of the Congo has been caused, in part, by a merciless invasion by Uganda and few seem to give a damn about a massive murder there for the DR's natural resources. This is at least a step by me," writes Posr Posr, from the U.S.

"Because I have been to Uganda and met some of the kindest and most humble and generous people there -- and in their hearts I cannot believe that they condone the anit-gay hatred being spouted by the nation's leaders," says Susan Vaughan, in the U.S.

"I strongly believe that thieves have no place in Heaven, and likewise they have no place in UN Assembly," says Tonny Okwir, from Uganda. "He can go rare goats and cows like his brother M7 come 2016!"

"Uganda is responsible for committing so many atrocities against the Congo, including war crimes!" writes Sioux Greaux, from the U.S. "They are responsible for massacres of men women an children! Sam Kutesa, listed among the 10 most corrupt officials in Uganda, cannot serve at President of the UN General Assembly!"

"Mr Kuteesa lacks integrity," concludes Kyeswa Ssebweze. "He was once forced to step down from his current post as Foreign Minister because of corruption charges. He escaped on a concocted technicality. He will be an embarrassment to African aspirations to the international community as a whole. And to appoint him would be to reward and endorse President Museveni for his 29 years in power."

"Corrupt people should not be allowed to positions like this. It will be endorsing their corruption," writes Omar Tajir from Tanzania.

The petition is available online

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