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Parliament fires back to UK over Speaker Among sanctions, warns against meddling in Uganda’s politics

Kampala, (UG):- Uganda’s Parliament Tuesday responded to the United Kingdom in a lengthy statement describing the imposition of sanctions against Speaker Anita Among as direct involvement in the country’s domestic politics by the British government.

The response, authored and signed by Chris Obore, the Director of Communications at Parliament came just hours after the UK Government published on their website that they had imposed sanctions against Hon Among and two former Ministers of Karamoja, Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu, for “stealing from the poorest communities in Uganda.”

UK’s Deputy Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell issued the sanctions under the Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions, which the UK government said are part of its continued effort to crack down on serious corruption around the world.

The statement from the UK pinned the two former ministers sanctioned, Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu, for stealing thousands of iron sheets used for roofing and infrastructure from a Ugandan government-funded project aimed at housing some of the most vulnerable communities in the region, providing them to prominent politicians and their families instead, while the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Annet Among, is accusing of having benefited from the proceeds.

“The actions of these individuals, in taking aid from those who need it most, and keeping the proceeds, are corruption at its worst and have no place in society. The Ugandan courts are rightly taking action to crack down on those politicians who seek to line their own pockets at their constituents’ expense,” said Mitchell.

“Today, the UK is sending a clear message to those who think benefiting at the expense of others is acceptable. Corruption has consequences, and you will be held responsible,” he added.

But in a scathy response, Mr Obore, who is the official spokesperson of Uganda’s Parliament headed by Speaker Among, said that by imposing sanctions on high-profile officials of the government of Uganda, the UK is involving itself in Uganda’s domestic politics.

“It is important that foreign partners, including the United Kingdom, respect the sovereignty of Uganda, and avoid the temptation to meddle into our local politics, including arm-twisting decision makers to align with their value system, especially on homosexuality,” Mr Obore said.

“The action of the UK could imply that they are active participants in Uganda’s local politics, thus targeting high-ranking national leaders at the urging of their foreign agents,” he added.

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According to Mr Obore, Uganda has regulatory, investigatory, and disciplinary institutions that deal with corruption, and so far, none of them has found the Speaker culpable or even called out the Speaker. “Therefore, the corruption allegations are as political as they can.”

What the sanctions against Speaker Among mean

The sanctions mean that any assets or businesses owned in the UK by any of the sanctioned individuals have been frozen.

An asset freeze prevents any UK citizen, or any business in the UK, from dealing with any funds or economic resources that are owned, held, or controlled by the designated person and which are held in the UK.

It will also prevent funds or economic resources from being provided to or for the benefit of the designated person or entity.

The sanctioned persons are also issued a travel ban. A travel ban means that the designated person is an excluded person under Section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971 and must be refused leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom (any leave given to a person who is an excluded person is invalid).

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Under the UK’s Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations 2021, individuals and entities anywhere in the world can be sanctioned for their involvement in bribery or misappropriation of property involving a foreign public official.

This could include those who facilitate, profit from, or try to cover up serious corruption, as well as making efforts to prevent authorities from carrying out justice for these actions.

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