Uganda's Gen. Museveni Mortgages Country to Foreign Oil, Opposition says

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[Global: Africa]

Uganda's opposition political parties have condemned the country's president Gen. Yoweri Museveni for signing an oil deal with foreign companies in defiance of a parliamentary ban.

Uganda's oil industry, which is just getting off the ground, is already bogged down by turmoil and corruption charges.

The country's legislature is currently investigating allegations that millions of dollars in bribes was paid by oil companies to Gen. Museveni and his top minister: prime minister Amama Mbabazi, foreign minister Sam Kutesa, and interior minister Hilary Onek.

The president and the ministers have denied allegations that they were paid millions in bribes by foreign oil companies.

Issuing a statement under the working umbrella of Inter -Party Cooperation (IPC), which brings together the country's major parties, the group accused and condemned Gen. Museveni’s "stealthly" actions for authorizing the signing of the oil agreement in defiance of the resolution made by Parliament to bar any deals.

In a statement issued February 16, the IPC equated Museveni’s actions to mortgaging the country and also warned the oil companies Tullow, CNOOC and TOTAL not to ignore the sovereign people of Uganda in their rush to exploit the resources, and that if they do so, they would be doing so at the own risk and peril.

This was a response to President Museveni’s comment that he sanctioned the signing of the oil Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) and ignored the Parliamentary resolutions that necessitate laws and policies to cater for the oil agreements.

The resolution that was passed in October 2011, Uganda Parliament demanded the government to come up with enforceable laws and table them in House within 30 days from the date of the resolution to cater for the oil Production-Sharing Agreements.

However, President Museveni bypassed the Parliament and ordered the country’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni to work with Tullow Oil Company to sign the Production-Sharing Agreements on February 3, 2012.

The agreement, now allows Tullow Oil to complete a deal with the Chinese company CNOOC and French TOTAL for commercial oil production.

The resolution, expressly stated that a moratorium on executing the oil contracts and for transactions be put on the executive arm of government “until the necessary laws have been passed by Parliament to put into effect the Oil and gas Policy”.

The October resolution, Parliament had concluded with a specific reference to the then impending transaction between Tullow, TOTAL and CNOOC, that: “Government withholds consent to the transaction between Tullow Oil (U) Ltd and Total and CNOOC, until the necessary laws are put in place”.

The resolution, which was passed by the Parliament, entails among other things, Production Sharing Agreement to be made public but all this was ignored.

In a statement the IPC accused Gen. Museveni of contempt of Parliament and mortgaging Uganda without considering the rest of the citizens.

“We condemn Mr. Museveni’s action of stealthily authorizing and
hurriedly signing these agreements in contempt of parliament, and as an extension of his personal scheme of mortgaging Uganda without regard to the common good of the people and the institutions that are constitutionally entitled to protect the sovereignty of the nation,” reads part of the statement which was signed by the current Chairman Mr. Asuman Basalirwa, who doubles as the President of (JEEMA) the Justice Forum.

On behalf of the IPC, in a statement, Basalirwa also said: “Mr. Museveni is not the legitimate president of Uganda. His handpicked Electoral Commission declared him winner of a fraudulent and sham election of February 2011.”

This was in reference to the last year’s presidential elections, which has never been recognised by the opposition and viewed as a rigged election handed over to Gen. Museveni by his handpicked Electoral Commission headed by Prof. Badru Kiggundu.

“We in the Inter Party Cooperation, IPC, and other opposition parties that participated in the 2011 presidential election made it categorically clear that we do not recognize Mr. Museveni as the legitimate president of Uganda,” reads the statement.

In reference to President Museveni’s recent comment, which he made when presiding the celebrations of the Tarehe Sita, the day his guerrilla outfit started the war against Dr. Milton Obote’s elected government, the IPC interpreted it in a way suggesting that Museveni is taking the country as his personal property.

“The confession by Mr. Museveni should confirm to all Ugandans that he treats Uganda’s natural resources as his personal property and that he has total contempt for Parliament, the House of Representatives,” the statement reads.

Whilst presiding the day’s event on February 6, in Kasese, Gen. Museveni was quoted as boasting that: “These young parliamentarians were penetrated by some individuals with their own agenda to block signing of the agreements, but I managed to defeat them.”

Some young lawmakers had sought a court injunction stop the signing of the PSA but Gen. Museveni defied them.

According to media reports Museveni, hurriedly ordered the signing of the agreements to foil a move by some MPs to block the signing of the production-sharing agreements with Tullow Oil.  The signing paved the way for Tullow's $2.9bn farm-down with Chinese company CNOOC and TOTAL of France.

The IPC claims that: “ He ordered the signing of the agreements in utter regard to a resolution of the Parliament of Uganda passed on the 11th day of October 2011.”

The resolution, expressly stated that a moratorium on executing the oil contracts and for transactions be put on the executive arm of government “…until the necessary laws have been passed by Parliament to put into effect the Oil and gas Policy”.

The resolution also demanded of government to come up with the
necessary laws and table the same in Parliament within 30 days from the date of the resolution which was October 11, 2011.

The oil wells in Uganda were discovered in the western border with Democratic Republic of Congo and the production was earlier anticipated to start earlier this year, but delayed because of dispute over taxation between the government and the oil company.

In the statement, the IPC warned that: “Tullow, CNOOC and Total should stand warned that if they insist on ignoring the Sovereign people of Uganda in their rush to exploit their resources, they will be doing so at the own risk and peril. Our country will not be encumbered by these patently fraudulent transactions.”

“We’re presently in a struggle to reclaim our country that has been
privatized and usurped by a handful of selfish individuals,” the statement further reads.

“Museveni and his NRM regime have systematically undermined
institutions, made corruption a way of life and employed diversionary tactics to deflect the people from the real issues that affect their lives. We appeal to all Ugandans to rise up and reclaim their country from the illegitimate leadership that has mortgaged their resources.

The IPC also says that, the struggle to liberate Uganda from these selfish individuals is every one’s urgent responsibility.

They said that: “It may be recalled that this is not the first time that Parliament has made resolutions in futility. Previously, Parliament passed a resolution requiring the halting of the privatization of Uganda Commercial Bank. This was ignored with contempt and the bank sold at a great loss to the people of Uganda.”

“We call upon the Parliament of Uganda to urgently reclaim its
constitutional role and assert its oversight power over the Executive,” it reads. It also warns that: “Failure to do this will result in an impotent and useless institution that the country can do without.”

A copy of the statement which this newspaper has obtained, was also copied to; John Ken Lukyamuzi, the President General, Conservative Party (CP), Dr. Kizza Besigye President of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Mike Mabikke President, of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere who is the Patron, Ssuubi.

Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from Europe

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