A senior Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) has said that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir are set to deal in gold from the world’s youngest country.
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity said this in the wake of the recently-launched Africa Gold Refinery (AGR), whose Chief Executive Officer Alain Goetz was quoted as saying his Ugandan-based factory is set to import and process raw gold and other gold-related materials from the war-torn South Sudan and ‘the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’.
“Africa Gold Refinery is simply expanding ‘Uganda’s resource-sucking operation in South Sudan’,” the official reportedly speaking from Nairobi said, adding: “We are fully aware of such a contract. This gold deal between Kiir and Museveni was recently finalized and we are fully aware of such a contract.”
South Sudan’s rebels have in the past accused Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is a staunch supporter of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, of taking advantage of the wealth of the war-wracked young nation.
But contacted, Senior Presidential Press Secretary Innocent Don Wanyama said: “That is total nonsense; Uganda does not attract investors based on resources from South Sudan. The company is based here and anyone can obtain its details.”
And, Goetz echoed Mr. Wanyama’s assertions, saying his company will comply with all the regulations and that it will be able to sell gold even to American corporations.
“It’s a very high compliance refinery. We do due diligence for every customer who comes in,” Goetz was quoted as saying. He also claimed his company will use the gold for coins and jewelry.
In 2010, the United States passed the ‘Dodd-Frank Act’, which ‘requires companies to disclose whether their products contain minerals from conflict-ridden parts of Africa’.
Meanwhile, media reports indicate the AGR has an initial output capacity of 300 kilograms of pure gold per week, and the ability to increase that to 500 kilograms eventually.
Uganda is South Sudan’s biggest trading partner and exports massive tons of maize and other items to Juba.