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Parliament backs off Kutesa bribery probe

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Parliamentary investigations into the US$500, 000 bribery allegations brought against the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) have hit a snag after the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said she had no jurisdiction over legal matters being pursued in the United States.
The issue of Kutesa’s bribery allegations that are now the subject of a Fedral Bureau of Investigations (FBI) investigation, was brought before Parliament on Tuesday by the Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, who stated that the allegations against the nation’s top diplomat had damaged the country’s image.
In response, Kadaga promised to give a ruling on whether Parliament would probe Kutesa’s behavior on Wednesday, an issue she however, deferred to today.
And, in her ruling during the plenary sitting, Kadaga said it was ‘premature’ for Parliament to investigate kutesa and instead asked MPs to wait for the outcomes of proceedings in New York before Parliament can take action over the matter.
But Karuhanga protested Kadaga’s ruling, calling for Kutesa’s
resignation to pave way for investigations.

“When we hold public office and there is an investigation against us and we remain in office, then there is a likely hood of influencing investigations. Wouldn’t be prudent to allow free and fair investigation instead of leaving the Minister to curtail and fail any effective investigations?” Karuhanga thundered.
It was then that Kadaga asked Karuhanga if he was proposing Parliament to go and investigate in New York yet it wasn’t within the August House’ jurisdiction.
In response, Karuhanga said: I know that so many countries cooperate
on issues of such nature because we aren’t enemy countries and have
no grudge of particular nature. I don’t see why they would fail to
establish a select Committee to cooperate.”
Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga County MP, called on his colleagues not to practice ‘double standards’ when it comes to Kutesa’s case, reminding them of former State Minister for Labour, Herbert Kabafunzaki who was arrested over bribery allegations and was forced out of office.
He asked fellow MPs not to treat Kutesa’s allegations as irrelevant,
saying “it isn’t Kutesa at trial but Uganda” and that failure by
Parliament to investigate the matter would be a disservice to the nation.
“Our own Kabafunzaki was sent on mere allegations, if
we couldn’t give benefit to him, then we should stop playing double
standards in this country,” Sekikubo said.

Late last month Kutesa came under the spotlight after the FBI implicated him in procuring a US$500, 000 bribe from one Patrick Ho Chi Ping while he served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 2015. The money was reportedly an inducement for the Chinese businessman to favourably secure deals in Uganda.

The foreign minister and his wife Edith Kutesa Gasana were also cited by the FBI in plans to board off ‘a local bank’ (believed to be Crane Bank), to some Chinese investors.

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