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Bodies of the fallen Uganda People's Defence Forces soldiers killed during Sunday's ambush by Al-Shabaab militants are to be returned home today, Wednesday.

In a statement, Lt Colonel Deo Akiiki, the deputy UPDF spokesperson says the plane carrying "the caskets of the deceased" will touch down at Entebbe Airforce base at 1:30pm. Lt. General Wilson Mbadi, the deputy Chief of Defence Forces will head the military delegation to receive the remains, according to the statement.

The names of those killed and injured are yet to be released. The UPDF said on Monday that 12 soldiers died on Sunday morning when Al-Shabaab fighters ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops.

The incident took place at Gorowen town between Bulumaler and Beladamini in Lower Shabelle region, about 140kms southwest of Mogadishu.

Army spokesperson, Brigadier Richard Karemire said another seven soldiers were wounded during the ambush. Brigadier Karemire said he was quoting the UPDF Amisom contingent commander, Brig Kayanja Muhanga.

Other sources yesterday however, quoted the number of the dead higher than the official figures. A military source who preferred to remain unnamed has told URN that the UPDF lost 21 soldiers in action and nine others are seriously injured. The source further said another 25 soldiers returned to the UPDF base alive while two are still missing.

Hours after the attack, Reuters news agency quoted Abdiasis Abu Musab, a senior Al-Shabaab military officer as saying they had killed at least 39 Amisom troops during the ambush. The Somali government was also quoted by some media as putting the number of killed soldiers at 23. 

But Brigadier Karemire dismissed this figure as Al-Shabaab propaganda when URN contacted him on phone on Monday. He insisted that nobody knows the UPDF soldiers more than their commanders who quoted the figure of 12 deaths and seven injuries.

Brigadier Karemire said the army was instituting an inquiry "to establish circumstances leading to this fateful incident."

This is the first major Al-Shabaab attack since September 2015 when the UPDF lost at least 19 soldiers. Different government officials, however, kept giving conflicting reports about the 2015 attack as international media put the number of dead at close to 50. One soldier, Private Masasa, was taken alive by the militants only to be executed in January this year.

Early this month, UPDF flagged off 1456 soldiers under Battle Group 22 and United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU) IV to the war-torn Somalia where Uganda has maintained presence for 10 years.

Uganda currently has over 6,000 troops in Somalia as part of the 22,000-strong Amisom peacekeeping force fighting the Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group that pushes to rule Somalia based on Sharia Law.

Uganda was the first country to deploy in Somalia in 2007, some 16 years after the country descended into anarchy following the fall of General Mohammed Siad Barre in January 1991.

5 months 1 week ago

Uganda's external and domestic debt has hit $11.2 billion according to the latest Bank of Uganda State of the Economy report.
 
The report says provisional total public debt stock (at nominal value) as at the end May 2017 stood at Shs 34 trillion, an increase of 14.1 per cent relative to June 2016 and 16.7 per cent in the same period a year ago.
 
It comprises of Shs 21.1 trillion or $5.7 billion in external debt, commanding a dominant share of 62.4 per cent of the total public debt, and Shs 12.7 trillion in domestic debt.
 
The external public debt at the end of May 2017 stood at $11.2 billion dollars. Undisbursed external debt stood at 5.3 billion dollars, down from 5.5 billion dollars as at end June 2016.

The debt burden has been exacerbated by infrastructure projects 

The former Finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka in 2013 introduced a Public Debt Medium Framework (PDMF) in an effort make Uganda's public debts sustainable.
 
But the Bank of Uganda says latest figures indicate that most of the domestic debt cost and risk indicators were outside the Public Debt Medium Framework (PDMF) benchmarks and domestic debt stock continues to exhibit roll over risk.
 
The rate of public domestic and external debt has been worrying though finance Minister Matia Kasaijja in June insisted that it was sustainable.
 
President Museveni in July declared that he must personally approve all loan applications requested by the government before they can be put to a vote in Parliament.
 
The president's decision was aimed at reducing what he called wasteful spending while the country navigates its way out of choppy economic waters. Museveni also halted the approval of 11 loans worth $914.79 million.
 
The current high public debt has been attributed to ongoing infrastructure developments in the road sector, oil and gas and hydro power projects.
 
Uganda's public debt burden has risen by 12.7 percentage points to 38.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016/17 from 25.9 per cent of GDP in 2012/13 and is projected to continue rising towards 45% of GDP by 2020.
 
Debt as a percentage of revenues has risen by 54 per cent since 2012 and is expected to exceed 250 per cent by 2018.
 
The debt burden, which is more than this year's budget of Shs 29 trillion, accounts for 33.8% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
 
The preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis shows that Uganda is likely to face moderately high risk.
 
There is also a risk of a further increase in the already high interest costs in the budget, which currently account for more than 10 per cent of government expenditure.
 
Debt Sustainability Analysis is a tool developed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to help donors in mobilizing critical financing for low-income countries, while reducing the chances of an excessive build-up of debt.
 
Uganda's debt had peaked to unsustainable levels nearly two decades ago, such that the economy did not have the capacity to meet its debt obligations.
 
The situation was only turned around when Uganda qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative in 1998 and subsequently under the Enhanced HIPC in 2000.
 
Uganda also benefited from another form of debt relief under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) in 2006.
 
These eased Uganda's debt service obligations but Bank of Uganda is concerned that government borrowing is exceeding Public Debt Medium Framework (PDMF) 2013.

5 months 1 week ago

The leadership of the Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) has threatened to take disciplinary action against the opposition party’s president, Beti Kamya, who currently serves President Museveni’s government as minister for Kampala.

UFA accuses Kamya, the party’s founding president, of neglecting her presidential duties in the party, making public utterances different from what the party believes in and acting in contempt of its organs.

Minister for Kampala Beti Kamya

Addressing the media in Kampala on Friday, UFA’s acting secretary general, Kennedy Oluma, said they will convene a national delegates’ conference in 30 days to determine Kamya’s fate. UFA will also use the conference to draft plans to push for the attainment of federalism in Uganda.

“We have no powers to dismiss anybody. We have to go through the delegates’ conference and what the delegates’ conference decides, we shall tell you,” Oluma said.

According to the UFA constitution, the delegates’ conference, working on the recommendations of the disciplinary committee, which registers complaints from the party members, can then suspend a member or revoke their membership.

Party officials pointed out that the move was not to condemn an individual but to enable them to run the party efficiently.

Since her appointment to cabinet as minister for Kampala by Museveni, Kamya has given less time to UFA, a party she founded and has made statements in support of President Museveni, changing from her earlier critical stance.

Oluma called Kamya’s appointment a means to cripple the party, “which we detest.”

“We do not want to make an alliance with the ruling National Resistance Movement [led by President Museveni]. Any notion that we are in alliance with NRM is extremely against our party,” he said.

In August last year, Kamya promised Museveni that she would deliver to him 80 per cent of the votes in the capital Kampala, an opposition stronghold, should he stand in 2021.

According to the constitution, 73-year-old Museveni will not be eligible to stand for president since he will have surpassed the 75-year cap.

Kamya also weighed in on the debate that government plans to change the constitution and remove the age limit clause, saying that the president “should rule as long as he wants.”

The party, however, distances itself from their president’s remarks.

“That is not the party position. That is just her opinion and she has the freedom to say whatever she likes but she is not the official party spokesperson,” Jimmy Mayanja, the party’s vice chairperson, Buganda region, said.

Kamya’s deputy and head of the party’s disciplinary committee, Bonifance Oniba, said efforts to bring their president to the committee over her statements have been futile since “she has snubbed several of our sermons.”

This, Oniba said, is the reason they have resolved to hold a national delegates conference to determine Kamya’s fate.

Efforts to reach Kamya for a comment were futile by press time; however, in recent media utterances, she has affirmed that her appointment as minister doesn’t mean she left UFA.

5 months 1 week ago

President Museveni has banned all daily levies charged on informal business groups such as market vendors, gonja  (roasted plantain) sellers, and maize sellers as well as taxis.

In a July 22, 2017 letter to the prime minister copied to the Kampala, Local Government and Finance ministers, Museveni says these groups should only pay annual licenses and operate without daily hindrances.

“…these operators buy an annual license of, may be, Shs 50,000. That should be all. Nobody should charge them daily fees of, for instance, Shs 1,000. There should be no fees for Kampala and fees for the up-country vendors. It should be one consolidated fee,” wrote the president.

This comes as a relief to taxi operators and vendors who have consistently complained about multiple taxation, especially in Kampala and Wakiso.

Mustapha Mayambala, the head of the Drivers and Conductors Central Association (DACCA), said on Saturday he had heard rumors of this letter but no official communication had been made.

“It is good if the president has written again because he had earlier informed the ministry of local government to do the same and they did not implement that directive,” Mayambala said.

Mayambala said the directive had probably started taking effect since daily charges at various stages in most parts of Kampala, Wakiso and Entebbe had stopped.

“But we still have problems with Luweero, Masaka, Kyotera, Kayunga and some parts of Wakiso who still ask for daily payments,” he said.

On average, a taxi is charged Shs 5,000 at every stage in respective local government jurisdictions. This means that a taxi can pay up to Shs 30,000 if it were to move through six districts on a given route.

According to Mayambala, “this is illegal money since it does not go into government coffers but is only shared among local government officials.”

In December last year, President Museveni directed the local government ministry to harmonise these fees. In a February 2017 memo, minister Tom Butime announced the introduction of monthly parking fees of not more than Shs 80, 000 for every taxi with effect from July 1, 2017.

This prompted taxi operators plying the eastern Ugandan route – Kampala-Jinja-Iganga-Mbale – to go on strike at the start of this month (August).

Butime’s directive meant that taxis would pay Shs 80,000 in every district of operation on top of the Shs 120,000 charged by KCCA.

This confusion is what the president wants to stop, proposing a standard fee. In his letter, the president reasoned that if the owner of a taxi or his employees made profits, they would, in turn, be charged income tax.

“These excessive direct taxes for these or any other groups are not correct. Once these groups get some income, they will start spending; that is how the government will get income through consumption taxes,” Museveni concluded.

5 months 1 week ago

In May 2013, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga announced that parliament would start its own radio and television stations to educate the public on the role of the legislative body.

With guaranteed funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kadaga had hoped to have the project ready by the end of the 2013/2014 financial year.

However, the long wait could be coming to an end as the outlets are expected to go on air next month. But an internal fight over control of the multi-million shilling project threatens to derail it.

It is understood that the fight is mainly among three top parliament officials; Chris Obore (Communication and Public Affairs), Dison Okumu (Planning) and the deputy editor of The Hansard, Esther Mwambu.

Okumu is said to have taken the lead in the procurement of services and equipment related to the project, which has left other officials feeling sidelined.

For instance, he contracted WBT Consortium to offer consultancy services for the radio and TV studio designs.

According to documents seen by this writer, the consultancy firm, which was paid Shs 80 million for the job, is owned by Vision Group employees Mark Walungama and Bill Tibingana, and one John Bwirehi. Some sources have linked radio personality Joel Isabirye to the group.

According to our source, the consultancy services were privately sourced as opposed to public bidding. Such a procurement activity would be sanctioned by the Parliamentary Commission, the administrative arm of Parliament, the source said.

However, according to a member of the Parliamentary Commission who spoke to The Observer on Monday, such a decision has never been taken.

“I don’t remember [the commission] procuring any consultant. In fact, as far as we are concerned no consultant has ever been engaged,” the commissioner said.

The consultant nonetheless concluded the job and submitted a report at the end of June.

FREQUENCY STRUGGLE

Last week, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) placed an advert in the press seeking the public’s views on an application by parliament for a television broadcast licence.

Securing the license was part of the tasks that had been given to the consultant but it took the intervention of the Kakumiro Woman MP Robinah Nabbanja, a parliament commissioner, to obtain it.

“It was the decision of the commission that she heads a sub-committee to fast-track the implementation of the project,” said commissioner Peter Ogwang (MP Usuk).

UCC had reportedly refused to allocate a frequency to parliament, having taken a decision years ago to suspend issuance of licences for Kampala on account of being crowded. Parliamentarians had to exert pressure on UCC Executive Director, Geoffrey Mutabaazi, to get an exception.

“After passing [the resolution] that we set up a parliament radio and TV, we then got information that they were denying us the frequency because UCC was not issuing any more frequencies for Kampala because it is crowded,” Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers) said.

Parliament came up with the idea of setting up its own broadcast houses based on the experiences of legislative bodies in Zambia and South Africa.

“We have been using UBC but it has too many programmes yet elsewhere in the world, parliaments have their own media that specifically talk about what really parliament is as an arm of government,” Ogwang said.

He added that parliament is in advanced stages of procurement and its TV and radio are expected to hit the airwaves by September, giving regular information about parliamentary activities.

However, some parliamentary commissioners said they were not privy to details of the project’s total cost, which some officials have put at approximately $350,000 (Shs 1.26bn). Asked to reveal the total cost, Okumu, the director of planning, said he too doesn’t know.

“I also don’t know; it is not a parliament project but a UNDP project. They are the ones doing all the procurements, the advertising, and all the consultants are being paid by UNDP,” Okumu said.

He added that the donor is expected to place newspaper adverts by next week calling for bids to construct the studios and other related activities.

Asked to comment on the alleged fight between him and other directors for control of the project, Okumu described it as “complete nonsense”.

He said: “There is a project team headed by commissioner Nabbanja. Whoever is saying [that] is confused, doesn’t know what he is talking about, should not associate with it [the project] and should not talk about it.”

Okumu added: “I am only chairing a technical team of 11 people and that team has some other directors like those of ICT, Communications and Research.”

Obore, the director of communication, also denied knowledge of any fight for control of the project.  He instead told this writer that Speaker Kadaga is upbeat about its near implementation.

“She is happy that donors have the willingness to fund the project,” Obore said.

5 months 1 week ago

Nominations for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party presidential candidates are set to kick off today, formally drawing the battle lines in a contest that has drawn about six contenders for the leading opposition party’s top job.

The current party president, Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, is expected to be nominated today as he seeks to retain a position he has held for the last four years, after the controversial 2013 election in which he beat current party secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi.

Muntu, who replaced founder president Dr Kizza Besigye, is being challenged this time round by five other aspirants. They are former Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa,  Moses Byamugisha, Dan Malcolm Matsiko and Moses Lukubira.

Muntu will head to Najjanankumbi for his nomination in a procession that will start at Bweyogerere at 8am. According to the chairman of his nomination team, Kira Municipality MP Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, Muntu is expected to arrive at the FDC headquarters at 1pm. Immediately after his nomination, Muntu will address a public rally at Jokas hotel field in Bweyogerere.

“The rally will not be limited to his nomination speeches. He will also address other national issues like the constitutional amendments,” said Ssemujju, who is also the FDC chief whip.

Muntu’s main challenger, Patrick Amuriat, who is backed by the ‘defiance camp’, will be nominated on Tuesday. Nomination programmes for the other contenders were not readily available by press time.

According to Hussein Lubega, a member of the party’s Electoral Commission (EC), not all the six aspirants who picked nomination forms had returned them by Saturday. Only four aspirants had submitted their forms duly signed by at least 20 delegates in support of their nomination.

The party’s EC spent most of Saturday verifying whether the forms had been signed by genuine delegates.

“We want to make sure that the signatures given to us are of real delegates. We are calling each of them to find out whether indeed it is them who signed the papers,” Lubega said.

Campaigns are expected to kick off on August 17 while voting by about 1,500 delegates will be held on November 17.

WHO IS SUPPORTING WHO?

Reports emerged last week that a group of party members close to the Besigye-led defiance cabinet were persuading Munyagwa and Lukubira to bow out of the race in favour of Amuriat.

Amuriat is the defiance cabinet’s minister for Lands and is believed to be easier to deal with than the unflinching Muntu, who has often stood his ground on matters that he feels strongly about.

For instance, Muntu has forced FDC members to back official party candidates as a matter of principle in elections where sections of the party would rather have thrown their weight behind a popular opponent.

“There are many activities that Besigye and group want to recruit FDC into but they have always been met with unwillingness on the part of Muntu; so, they think defiance and other activism activities will be better embraced with one of their own,” a senior member of the party who declined to be named told us.

However, Munyagwa, who did not deny the overtures by the Besigye group, ruled out the possibility of stepping down for Amuriat.    

“Some of our defiance members believe that Amuriat is of advanced age. He is cool-headed, etc, but none of us is not cool-headed. It is the situation that has changed us,” Munyagwa said.

Out of the pool of six, the party’s top brass appears to be divided between Muntu and Amuriat. According to a well-placed party source, besides Ssemujju, Muntu has to his side deputy presidents Alice Alaso (Eastern), Reagan Okumu (North) and Patrick Baguma (Western).

He also has the support of Winfred Kiiza (Leader of Opposition in Parliament), MPs Angeline Osegge (Soroti Woman) and Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye West).

Amuriat, on the other hand, has won over Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwaawo, the Lubaga division mayor, Salaamu Musumba, secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, his deputy Harold Kaija, treasurer Geoffrey Ekanya and his deputy Wilberforce Kyambadde and secretary for mobilization Ingrid Turinawe.

THE CONTENDERS

Ahead of the nomination exercise, The Observer sought to interview all the six aspirants who have picked nomination forms.

While some of the aspirants were available to offer extensive interviews ahead of the nomination days, others could only provide brief insights into the reasons why they have offered themselves for the party’s top job. Below, we look at the latter category.

Moses Byamugisha

He is a long-time party mobiliser from the newly created Rukiga district who thinks it’s his time to climb to the helm.

“The youth are excited about my candidature. The fact that one of their own is going to be on the ballot paper is already an achievement for them,” Byamugyisha said.

Byamugisha became active in the FDC activities during the 2010/11 presidential campaigns as an aide to Kizza Besigye.
He was later given a job at parliament as one of a policy analysts attached to the office of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.

In 2015, he picked nomination forms for FDC presidential flag bearer for the 2016 general elections but pulled out of the race in Besigye’s favour.

Mubaraka Munyagwa

The Kawempe South MP is a newly recruited party member having joined the party in 2015 from the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

That was the culmination of his fallout with the SDP party leadership after he attempted to dethrone Michael Mabikke whom he accused of selling the party to former vice president Prof Gilbert Bukenya.

The former Kawempe division chairman is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws degree at Makerere University. Munyagwa told The Observer there is nothing new he is bringing to the party but like in football team, he is going to change the style of the game.

“Our party constitution says that FDC will peacefully seek power but when you look at our opponents, they are chaotic. Museveni has been an entrepreneur of chaos for a very long time; so, when such an opponent looks at you talking about peaceful means, he will just laugh knowing these tactics can’t change government,” Munyagwa said.

He says Uganda is under a military occupation; so, there is need to change the FDC constitution so that it talks about how to deal with this occupation.  

“We have to change the nomenclature of the party to reenergize our people to be able to deal with the enemy we are encountered with.  

Our party headquarters will be called the revolutionary house, even me as the party president I will be called the commander in chief.”

Mugisha Muntu

Aged 58, Muntu has been the FDC president since 2012. Although his current term of office expires in November, Muntu handed over office to party vice president for eastern Uganda (Alice Alaso) in order to contest for a second term in office.

Muntu served as Uganda’s army commander from 1989 to 1998, director of Military Intelligence, from 1987 to 1988, division commander from 1988 to 1989.

Muntu’s nomination committee chairperson, Ssemujju Nganda, said Muntu in 1981 and joined the Luwero war that brought Museveni to power, but fell out with the NRM leadership over governance issues.

“Muntu broke ranks with Mr Museveni in 2003 when the latter sought to change the Constitution to remove the two-term presidential term limits. He joined hands with others to form the FDC,” he said.

During his time in the FDC, Muntu has served as a member of the East African Legislative Assembly for ten years.

Before that, he was also an MP in the sixth parliament. Muntu has also twice challenged Dr Besigye to be the FDC presidential flag bearer.

According to Ssemujju, Muntu will name his campaign team after his nomination and further consultations.

5 months 1 week ago

Kenya's election commission was preparing to release final results Friday from a hotly-contested vote in which the opposition has already claimed victory, fanning tensions in the east African nation.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition on Thursday demanded that its candidate Raila Odinga be declared president, claiming massive fraud was behind preliminary results that place him far behind incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.

Foreign observers praised a peaceful, credible voting process on Tuesday, but the mood quickly turned sour with Odinga rejecting results after only a few hours of counting.

Odinga first complained the electronically transmitted results were not being backed up by the required forms and then hours later he unveiled details of an alleged hacking attack to manipulate results.

NASA then doubled down with a claim the election commission (IEBC) was concealing true results contained on its server that showed Odinga to be the winner.

"We demand that the IEBC chairperson announce the presidential election results forthwith and declare Raila Amolo Odinga... as the duly elected president," said one of NASA's leaders, Musalia Mudavadi.

The charge ratcheted up tensions that have seen Kenya on a go-slow since voting day, with many businesses shut, civil servants staying at home and streets largely empty.

People want justice

Protests have remained isolated to Odinga's strongholds in Nairobi slums -- where police shot dead two protesters Wednesday -- and the western city of Kisumu.

But memories are still fresh of a disputed poll in 2007 that led to two months of ethno-political violence, leaving 1,100 dead and displacing 600,000.

While veteran opposition leader Odinga, 72, also claimed 2013 polls were stolen from him, he took his grievances to the courts and ended up accepting his loss.

"We do not want to see any violence in Kenya. We know the consequences of what happened in 2008 and we don't want to see a repeat of that," Odinga told CNN in an interview.

But he repeated his assertion that "I don't control anybody. People want to see justice."

Kenyatta looked set for certain victory, with 8 million votes to Odinga's 6.7 million, according to the IEBC public website whose results are being cross-checked against polling forms from constituencies.

However, NASA provided documents purportedly obtained from IEBC servers via a "confidential source" showing that Odinga had 8.04 million votes, leading Kenyatta on 7.75 million.

We need peace

IEBC chief Wafula Chebukati responded to the NASA claims, detailing that their "evidence" was riddled with arithmetic errors and came from a Microsoft database, while the electoral commission's system was running on Oracle.

In the Kondele neighbourhood of the western city of Kisumu -- where protests erupted on Wednesday -- hundreds of Odinga supporters took to the streets, banging drums and blowing vuvuzelas after his party declared him the winner.

"We are happy," said 35-year-old Anthony Karaba, as a police helicopter hovered overhead.

"We need peace and we need the correct results."

The IEBC insists its electronic voting system -- seen as key to avoiding fraud -- was not compromised.

Britain and the US joined foreign observer missions in urging party leaders to be patient and refrain from inflaming tensions ahead of the release of final results.

Former US secretary of state John Kerry, leading an observer team from the Carter Center, expressed confidence in the IEBC.

"We believe the IEBC put in place a detailed, transparent process of voting, counting, reporting and securing the vote, all of which lends significant credibility and accountability," Kerry told journalists.

Before the election the race between Odinga and Kenyatta was seen as too close to call.

It was billed as the final showdown between the two men whose fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga were allies in the struggle for independence, but later became bitter rivals, setting the stage for decades of political rancour.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking re-election after a first term in which he and his Jubilee Party were credited with a massive infrastructure drive and overseeing steady economic growth.

Odinga describes himself as a social democrat who wants to fight inequality.

5 months 2 weeks ago

A Chinese firm claiming to have been cheated out of a deal to extract gravel has petitioned Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, seeking her intervention.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is battling with Welt Machinen Engineering company over the ownership of the mineral-rich Kamusalaba rock in Lorengedwat sub-county, Nakapiripirit district.

Welt Machinen belongs to Ben Koriang and Felix Oroma, sons of Peter Lokeris, the minister of state for Minerals.

At the centre of the protracted three-year standoff is the Shs 20 billion payment for construction material by the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), which was deposited with the court registrar before the two parties clear their legal dispute.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga

CRBC claims the Shs 20bn was earnings from the completed Moroto-Nakapiririti road project. In a letter dated July 28 to Kadaga, CRBC says the matter was “affecting their businesses in Uganda” and are therefore seeking her protection.

“Withholding Shs 20bn through such irregularities does not give us confidence as investors from protection from speculators who want to take advantage of genuine business,” the letter reads in part.

THE START

CRBC claim they entered into an agreement with the Nakapiripiriti district local government on May 13, 2013 to operate a quarry and extract rock for road-building purposes from Kamusalaba.

CRBC was awarded and subsequently signed the contract with Unra for upgrading the 93-km Moroto–Nakapiripirit road.

They further claim to have invested $2 million in machinery but later, according to their letter to Kadaga, Welt Machinen Engineering claimed ownership of the land on which the quarry was based.

Subsequent legal battles with Welt Engineering have stalled progress on the rock and also sucked in President Museveni even though he has not yet responded.

On June 29, CRBC wrote to President Museveni, saying: “As investors we have executed work legitimately in the national interest, we should not suffer inconvenience of having to fight with speculators who want to take advantage of the court process as they have nothing to lose.”

5 months 2 weeks ago

Following an outbreak of measles in Kampala and Wakiso, the government has embarked on immunisation of children in the two districts, according to senior ministry of health officials and district health authorities.

The director general of Health Services in the ministry of Health, Dr Anthony Mbonye, said the ministry has put in place a number of measures to control the spread of the disease.

They include investigating the extent of spread of measles within the districts of Kampala and Wakiso and educating the public about the signs, symptoms and dangers of the disease.

“Others are undertaking routine immunisation programmes of children and management of all suspected cases. I appeal to the public to avoid direct contact with children infected or suspected to be infected with the disease,” he said.

Mbonye requested residents of the two districts to report suspected cases immediately and take any suspected children to nearby health facilities.

“Take unvaccinated children under five years of age for immunization to the nearest health facilities,” he said. 

The Wakiso district health officer, Dr Mathias Seviiri, told The Observer yesterday the disease is likely to affect children aged six months to five years. He said the biggest number of victims is likely to be children who have never been immunized or failed to complete their doses.

“We are now undertaking daily vaccination at all the health centres in Wakiso district starting with babies of six months. We are putting emphasis on the most affected areas,” he explained.

According to Dr Seviiri, the most affected areas include Kasangati town council, Nansana municipality, Makindye Ssabagabo, Kira town council, Busukuma, Wakiso town council, and Gayaza.

Dr Anthony Mbonye said a total of 67 suspected cases of measles were confirmed in both Wakiso and Kampala. He said all the five divisions of Kampala, and several suburbs in Wakiso district are affected.

“Measles is an airborne disease that affects mainly children aged between six months and 10 years of age although it can also affect adults,” he said.

Some early symptoms of measles include high fever, whooping cough and red swelling eyelids, muscle and body aches, irritability, running nose, watery eyes and rashes.

Because it is an air-borne disease, it can spread very fast in heavily populated areas, of which both Kampala and Wakiso are. Some residents in Wakiso and Kampala districts claimed the measles outbreak was due to the increased number of refugees in the area.

However, the minister of Health, Jane Acheng, refuted the claims, saying, “We have cross-border control measures where we check all people entering the country.”

 

5 months 2 weeks ago

Security forces move past burning tyres in Kisumu

Confusion continued to reign in Kenya for a second day after polling, with the two leading presidential rivals both claiming victory ahead of the announcement of the final official results, which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is expected to make late today.

Yesterday, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati told the media the electoral body had ordered all its officials to submit the forms 34B by noon today for validation.

“We have asked all our officers to send in the forms by 11am tomorrow. Once we’re done with the validation, we will immediately tell Kenyans who their next president is,” he said.

However, last evening, the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) of Raila Odinga piled more pressure on IEBC, saying in a press conference that the electoral body must declare their presidential candidate as the winner of Tuesday’s election.

Addressing the press conference flanked by Odinga, Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi, a former vice president, claimed they had received information from sources within IEBC suggesting that Odinga had won the polls.

“We demand that IEBC announce the presidential election results forthwith and declare Rt. Hon Raila Odinga and H.E Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka as the dully elected president and deputy president of the Republic of Kenya respectively,” the statement read.

However, with results from 97.6 percent of polling stations counted, Kenyatta continues to hold a strong lead. Presidential results released by IEBC on its website show that incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta has garnered 8,113,480 votes (54.24 per cent of the total votes cast) while Odinga, his closest challenger, has 6712934 votes (44.87 per cent).

President Kenyatta has largely stayed out of the media spotlight since casting his vote, just like his deputy William Ruto. Even the social media accounts of the two leaders have been uncharacteristically quiet since voting day.

The silence of the incumbent has left all the attention on Odinga, whose statements about the hacking of the IEBC website by elements who could have attempted to manipulate results in favour of his rivals have stocked sporadic violence in Nairobi and parts of Kisumu, the opposition leader’s stronghold.

Yesterday, IEBC boss Chebukati admitted its database was a target of an unsuccessful hacking attempt, according to BBC. Chebukati said “hacking was attempted but did not succeed.”

Odinga and his Nasa team have maintained their claims of foul play even as several electoral observers such as the Inter-Governmental Agency on Development (IGAD) yesterday said Kenya’s elections were conducted in a “transparent manner.”

 “Based on what it has been able to observe, the IGAD observation mission preliminary conclusion is that the general elections were conducted in a peaceful, orderly, and transparent manner and in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Kenya.

IGAD calls on all political parties and candidates to respect the will of the people of Kenya and to refrain from any act that might be of disruptive nature to the peace and stability of the country,” said the IGAD statement.

A team headed by former US Secretary of State John Kerry also called for calm and restraint on Thursday, after protests called by the opposition turned violent on Wednesday claiming the lives of at least five people. Kerry told Al Jazeera the allegations needed to be examined but “not a reason to stop the process or question the entire election”.

“The [counting] process is still ongoing, the counting is happening now. And as long as it’s done appropriately, you have an ability to have full integrity of this election. The integrity is still intact.” Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president in charge of the African Union observer mission, has praised the poll so far.

“It would be very regrettable if anything emerges afterwards that sought to corrupt the outcome, to spoil that outcome,” he said.

Yesterday, the head of public service in Kenya, Joseph Kinyua, instructed all civil servants to resume their duties with immediate effect. Kinyua further asked all principal secretaries to submit a list with names of civil servants who will have reported to work on Friday, August 11 in various ministries and departments.

Running Kenya’s poll, according to The Economist, will cost some 49bn Kenyan shillings (about $480 million), with campaign spending said to have cost just as much, making Kenya’s election more expensive per person than that of the United States of America.

5 months 2 weeks ago

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