Teso speaks out on Speaker Among sanctions

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Teso speaks out on Speaker Among sanctions
the sanctions are "dead on arrival"

SOROTI | Joshua Okello Jokel was armed for Anita Among's defence for this interview. The Soroti City lawyer had in his arsenalĀ  glib tongue and black tee-shirt emblazoned with the embattled Parliament Speaker's image.

"The the sanctions are dead on arrival," Jokel declared.

Ms Among was on Tuesday reduced to a pauper by the British foreign ministry, who slapped the Speaker of Ugandan Parliament with debilitating sanctions, including travel ban to the UK and asset freeze.

Docked with Ms Among over the Karamoja iron sheets saga are former ministers Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu.

Britain has directed that no citizen, organisation or agency with ties to its government deals with the trio in any matters that involve finances.

Stakeholders and policy analysts in Teso have reacted to the UK sanctions, with some blaming the weak judicial system in the country for failing to investigate and prosecute those involved in the iron sheets scandal.

They argue that the sanctions have exposed the country's inability to hold its leaders accountable and have sent a signal that some individuals are above the law.

Benson Ekue, director of the Public Affairs Centre and a policy analyst in Teso, said the sanctions indicate a lack of faith in the local system and serve as a wake-up call to Uganda's leaders.

"Think while sanctions are not desirable, they highlight the need for respect for the law and accountability," Mr Ekue said.

He also suspects that someone with significant influence must have provided evidence to the UK government, leading to the sanctions.

Another policy analyst in Teso, Peter Locom, agreed that the sanctions were long overdue but also selective.

He argued that the UK government should have named all top officials involved in corruption scandals, including the Prime Minister and Vice President, rather than just targeting a few individuals.

Locom emphasised that selecting only Among, Kitutu, and Nandutu is not justice enough and called for all those named in the corruption scandal to be sanctioned.

"This should have included all those who were involved in the scandal if it's about the iron sheet, not just Among, Kitutu and Nandutu alone let all those involved be sanctioned," he said.

Parliament was quick to react to the sanctions, accusing the UK of interference with the sovereignty of Uganda and targeting the Speaker for her strong support for the anti-gay law passed by Parliament last year.

Mr Jokel was just as dismissive as Parliament director of communication Chris Obore, saying the sanctions are "nothing".

Okello argues that the Speaker has never been charged in any court of law and that the UK is using the iron sheet saga as a "camouflage" to target the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

"The UK should respect the sovereignty of other countries," Okello said, "their sanctions are dead on arrival."

He described any allegations against the Speaker as "rubbish".

Okello's defence of the Speaker comes amid growing criticism of the UK's decision to impose sanctions on her and other officials over corruption allegations.

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