Members of the Opposition are concerned at France’s reluctance to stop French companies from exploiting Uganda’s fossil fuels in accordance with the Paris Climate Accords.
The concern was raised in a meeting between the Opposition Cabinet and a delegation of French diplomats, including French senator, Olivier Cadic at Parliament on Monday, 16 May 2022.
“Coming from your country, even if they are private, to promote the use of fossil oils that are being run away from. Isn’t it a contradiction? It is a very big contradiction. You should be encouraging your companies to help developing countries to begin engaging in alternative sources of energy,” Hon. Asuman Basalirwa, Bugiri Municipality MP said.
The MPs spoke against a backdrop of a video clip that circulated over the weekend showing French President Emanuel Macron sandwiched by activists at the European Union Parliament in Brussel, Belgium, demanding that his government stops funding to TotalEnergies because of the company’s involvement in the development of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline over environmental concerns.
French Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Jules Armand Aniambossou re-echoed his President’s statement telling the meeting that TotalEnergies is a private French company without government control.
“Our view about this project as per President Macron’s letter to President Museveni is that, it is the right of Ugandans to develop their oil sector but the rights of the people must be respected – their rights on land, there must be compensation of the community,” Aniambossou said.
He added that the French government is also keen on protecting the environment, an issue it had made clear to the French companies involved in the project.
The MPs also questioned their involvement in the exploration of Uganda’s oil and gas resources but at the same time kept silent about the country’s governance and human rights issues.
“We have had a lot of commentary from Europe on what is going on in Uganda but we are yet to pick the views of our French partners on matters regarding human rights, and how the French people think of what we regard as blatant abuse of human rights in this country because you are our strategic partners,” the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga, said.
The Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs also Kyadondo County East MP, Hon. Muwada Nkunyingi added: “We have seen France coming out strongly in other jurisdictions to condemn attacks on political and human rights activists, why is France silent when it comes to Uganda? Is it because of your economic interests? Is it because of the oil? [You have to be] mindful that this oil belongs to the people of Uganda.”
“It is important to take decisions based on what you are thinking as a country and not what other world powers like the US, the UK, China or Russia are thinking,” Cadic said as he attempted to explain why the French government prefers not directly to interfere in Uganda’s politics.