Would 'backdoor diplomacy' save Speaker from sanctions mess?

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Would 'backdoor diplomacy' save Speaker from sanctions mess?
Speaker Anita Among has been sanctioned by the UK and US

Foreign policy experts have underscored the role of backdoor diplomacy in solving diplomatic standoffs that pose high reputational risks to the country.

These say that Uganda has no chance at reciprocal entitlement since its consequences are dire to the country’s economy since it is just a player in the global power play.

Speaker of Parliament Anita Among was on April 30 sanctioned by the UK, who imposed asset freeze and travel ban on Uganda's third highest ranked official.

As Ms Among reeled from the repercussions with several allies of the UK government quietly activating the sanctions in their jurisdictions, the US last week cracked their own whip by designating the Speaker.

Questions have lingered on whether Uganda will be able to receive funding in loans and from US and the UK since the body that approves these is headed by a sanctioned speaker.

Prof Ahmed Al Hajji says that money will continue coming in Uganda’s trade balance with the US shifted from a goods trade surplus of $75 million in 2021 to a goods trade deficit of $7 million in 2022.

While the trade balance between Uganda and the UK in the four quarters to the end of 2023 was a goods surplus of Euro 42 million.

According to Silver Kayondo, a Foreign Direct Investment lawyer, in case the European Union also imposes targeted sanctions, Ugandan firms doing business with European businesses will be required to submit their Sanctions policies as a form of third-party risk management.

"The due diligence will be more enhanced right from procurement to payments,” Mr Kayondo said.

So, the sanctions themselves may not hurt as much as their tails.

So does the principle of reciprocal entitlement, in diplomacy where countries trade actions similar to what their counterparts have done, apply? What countermeasures are available for a nation whose nationals have been sanctioned?

Legal minds say that an array of measures are available including but not limited to expelling the sanctioning country’s diplomats, issuing counter sanctions like in trade, trade restrictions, travel bans of targeted individuals, cessation of diplomatic ties, and withdraw from critical joint missions/pacts, among others.

Experts however warn that these would have disastrous effects.

However, Kayondo says that it’s not all gone as there are “some immediate gestures that Kampala can make to Washington DC, including unblocking Facebook/Meta and approving Starlink's license application that has been pending for too long.”

Otherwise, there is much more to lose as a country in these diplomatic standoffs.

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