President Yoweri Museveni will not make it to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA which officially starts Tuesday, September 18.
According to officials from Presidency, Museveni will be ably represented by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, and a 14-man- team which also includes the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Ministers; Okello Oryem and Sam Kuteesa.
When Nile Post contacted State House on why the president decided to skip the UNGA, we were told that Museveni has a litany of things to do back home, hence he will delegate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to handle.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem confirmed to Nile Post that indeed Museveni elected to skip the UNGA following a cabinet decision on cost cutting, which was tabled almost three months ago.
“Cabinet took decision three months ago that we need to cut costs and this includes limiting the president’s movements abroad. When the President moves, he needs a bigger delegation,” Oryem said.
“Besides, there is nothing fundamental to discuss at the UNGA, except a speech from the President for only 15 minutes. The President saw no significance in making a journey to New York, unless there is a really a fundamental issue that necessitates his presence, in this case there is none,” Oryem added.
When further questioned on whether Museveni’s decision was informed by the pressure alleged to have been generated by Kyadondo East Legislator, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine, who while in USA the previous weeks spun against the central government, Oryem said the government is “not bothered by Bobi Wine”.
“I know some mad heads are connecting this to Bobi Wine, no it has nothing to do with Bobi Wine and he is of no significance at all. In fact, we are not bothered and do not lose even any sleep over it,” he said.
Nile Post also informed Oryem of the report quoting a section of Ugandans abroad who threatened to protest against Museveni at the UN Assembly. He however laughed off the threats as inconsequential and impractical.
“Have you been to New York? People here talk about security by the SFC, they should go to New York, it is so tight and they don’t entertain such nonsense. In fact, there is no head of state who will see such a demonstration because people are kept several miles away. They can’t even come close,” he said.
Before adding; “Those planning such demonstrations should know this is the NRM revolutionary government, not a UPC of sorts. When Besigye was pepper sprayed, didn’t we survive demonstrations? When LGBT issue came, didn’t we over come it? When Mambas stormed court, didn’t we overcome it? This Bobi Wine matter is very small and it will disappear in months. We are the NRM government and we are in charge, we are not shaken at all.”
The minister who prides of a 15-year experience managing international relations says the only thing that would bother government is what is discussed in White House for instance, or by a specific section of corporate and professional Ugandans abroad.
“Ugandans looking for survival through simple odd jobs abroad wont scare us. We would lose sleep over what is discussed in White House, not on streets.”
Oryem also said he is aware of a resolution by the European Union parliament regarding alleged human rights violation in Uganda. He dismissed the resolution as coming from “jokers’.
“Those are jokers. We are disappointed with the EU parliament, they have more important things to discuss, for instance the issue of Libya among others. They are just jokers. We have already replied to them and we shall address the issue again.”
Oryem also hinted that him and Sam Kuteesa would address the Bobi Wine issue in detail when they arrive in USA on Saturday, including demystifying all wrongs the youthful legislator has told international media and diasporans.
Is Museveni the only one not going?
Some of the most controversial global leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi of India and Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, are not scheduled to attend this General Assembly.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be at some of the meetings but will leave his Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to speak at the General Assembly.