Controversial Ugandan Official May Get UN Post
Sam Kutesa became known to many Ugandans after he was ousted as a junior investment minister by lawmakers over charges he abused his office. Now foreign minister, he has been implicated in at least two more scandals since 1999, including allegations that he accepted bribes from foreign companies seeking oil contracts in Uganda.
Kutesa, who denies all allegations, is Africa’s unanimous choice to become president of the U.N. General Assembly. Critics, however, say Uganda’s controversial figure does not deserve the largely ceremonial but prestigious post.
"He’s a hugely divisive figure because of his checkered history in Uganda’s politics," said Nicholas Opiyo, a prominent Ugandan lawyer who runs a watchdog group called Chapter Four. "He’s not a paragon of virtues and he’s not the best this country can put forward."
At least two senators from New York have criticized Kutesa’s appointment, and more than 9,000 people have signed an online petition urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. member states to block the Ugandan from taking up the post. The petition cites his implication in corruption scandals at home and his alleged role in the enactment of Uganda’s new anti-gay law.
Kutesa and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are "making a mockery" of U.N. values and it would be a "travesty" if Kutesa were allowed to lead the next session of the U.N. General Assembly, the petition says.
Although Kutesa, 65, is not known for making provocative anti-gay statements, rights activists say he supported the aggressive law that allows jail terms of up to life for those convicted of engaging in gay sex.