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Speaker Among runs back to Pope as sanctions from UK, US start to bite

Kampala, (UG):- The Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Among is set to meet Pope Francis in a high-level private meeting as sanctions from the United Kingdom and the United States against Uganda’s House chief start to bite.

In a May 27 letter copied to the Clerk to Parliament, H.E Amb. Stephen Mubiru, Uganda’s Envoy to Germany and Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations Office in Vienna confirmed that Pope has agreed to meet Ms Among on August 24.

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“His Holiness Pope Francis has granted a private audience to the Rt Hon Speaker Anita Among on Saturday morning, August 24, 2024,” the Ambassador who runs point on a Mission that oversees Uganda’s interests in Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, The Vatican, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania wrote.

According to the letter, the Speaker is expected to furnish the Ambassador’s office with details of the hotel in which she will be residing, including a list of a maximum of three people who will be accompanying her to the meeting with the Pope; personnel and equipment that she will be using for media coverage purposes.

When contacted to ascertain details surrounding the urgent meeting, Parliament’s Director of Communication and Public Affairs, Mr Chris Obore downplayed the significance of the meeting, saying the Speaker is “privileged to receive [the Pope’s] blessings and counsel”.

Another source close to Ms Among speaking on condition of anonymity said the Speaker has been seeking papal intervention since early in December last year when the US announced expanded visa and travel restrictions on Uganda officials that it accused of being responsible for undermining democracy and repressing the rights of “marginalised groups”.

The need for a meeting with the Pope is said to have assumed more urgency on Thursday following the announcement by the United States of its own set of sanctions against Speaker Among. Washington accused her of “involvement in significant corruption tied to her leadership of Uganda’s Parliament”.

Mr Obore says Ms Among has confidence that Pope Francis would listen to her without judging her.
“He (Pope Francis) discriminates [against] none and sanctions none because he spreads the love of God, not hatred, bitterness and anger,” he said.

The United Kingdom was the first to sanction Ms Among at the end of April. She was sanctioned along with Dr Kitutu and Ms Nandutu under the UK’s Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime. The three are accused of allegedly stealing iron sheets meant for distribution to vulnerable communities in the Karamoja sub-region. They are ineligible for travel to the UK and all their assets and bank accounts there were frozen.

Among last visited Rome in August 2023 where she met Pope Francis and informed him that she was expecting a child. Two months later, she announced that she and her husband had welcomed a set of twins.

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