Uganda president reappoints officials accused of graft

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 15, 2012 1:47 PM
Uganda president reappoints officials accused of graft

By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni reappointed three senior government officials on Wednesday 10 months after they stepped down over corruption allegations, a move analysts said undermined the veteran leader's promises to fight graft.

Corruption is rife in the east African country which is on the cusp of an oil boom. Museveni, in power since 1986, has come under increasing pressure from donors and watchdogs to stamp out graft.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, government Chief Whip John Nasasira and junior Labour Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana resigned on October 12, a day before they were charged with abuse of office and causing financial loss.

In April this year, Uganda's constitutional court quashed their trial, ruling that the office of the Inspectorate of Government, which was prosecuting the three men, was not properly constituted.

A new cabinet list issued by the president's office on Wednesday showed Kutesa, whose daughter is married to Museveni's son, was back in his foreign affairs job.

Rukutana also returned to his post while Nasasira became minister in charge of general duties in the office of the prime minister.

"Museveni has just squandered a chance to give his government a clean new record and instead entrenched his loyalists," said Angelo Izama, a fellow at the New York-based Open Society Foundation.

"Obviously it's clear loyalty trumps everything else and corruption isn't a big consideration in his government," he added.

Government spokeswoman Karoro Okurut said she could not comment on the president's decision.

Last year Uganda was rattled by a series of street protests over corruption and the rising cost of living.

While a security crackdown managed to quell the demonstrations, some analysts say festering graft and lack of top-level convictions could spark future unrest.

(Editing by Richard Lough and Andrew Heavens)