News / Africa

Controversial Ugandan Set to Lead UNGA

FILE - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa, Moscow, May 12, 2014.
FILE - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa, Moscow, May 12, 2014.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N. General Assembly Wednesday is expected to elect by acclamation the foreign minister of Uganda as president of its 69th session.

Sam Kutesa has been Uganda's foreign minister on and off since 2005, under long-time president Yoweri Museveni. He most recently garnered international attention for defending the Ugandan government’s harsh anti-homosexuality law that the president signed in February.

In the past, Kutesa has survived political censure by the Ugandan parliament following a corruption scandal, though no formal charges were brought against him.

However, questions have been raised about a company he once chaired and is believed to still own shares in, Entebbe Handling Services, or ENHAS, which has contracts with at least one U.N. peacekeeping mission in Africa.

A U.N. spokesperson said the organization is trying to ascertain its current relationship with ENHAS, and whether it presents a conflict of interest.

According to the U.N.’s procurement website, the company has been a registered vendor with it since June 2006.

Calls to revoke Kutesa's US visa

Kutesa’s candidacy has inspired a petition on Change.org, a website that hosts public petitions, garnering more than 11,000 signatures.

Milton Allimadi, editor and publisher of the Black Star News website, started the petition, which calls on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke Kutesa’s visa so he cannot come to New York.

“It is one of the quickest ways to stop Mr. Kutesa from becoming the president of the U.N. General Assembly," Allimadi said. "I think certainly the recent precedent was when the U.S. decided to not provide a visa for the Iranian-designated new Permanent Representative to the United Nations.”

In that case, the Iranian diplomat had been implicated in the 1979 hostile takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the ensuing hostage crisis. The United States rarely invokes its right as host country to withhold a diplomat’s visa.

US, UN keep distance

Washington has made no move to block Kutesa’s entry. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said recently that the choice of the Ugandan to preside over the General Assembly is up to member states, specifically the African regional group whose turn it is this year to put forth a candidate.

“Members of regional groups are the ones who select the leader," Harf said. "So in terms of being part of the selection process we, of course, we're not. No matter who is president of the General Assembly, we will continue standing up, defending LGBT [gay] rights at the U.N.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric echoed the sentiment, noting that the president of the General Assembly is not a U.N. staff position.

“The president of the General Assembly is chosen by the member states," Dujarric said. "It is entirely a decision of the General Assembly. It is not the secretary-general’s decision. He has no input into that process.”

Kutesa not first controversial candidate

Kutesa would not be the first controversial candidate to lead the General Assembly. During his assembly presidency, in January 2013, former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic outraged Bosnian groups and some member states after he had a song played during a U.N. event that was associated with massacres during the Balkan wars.

In 2008, Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a Catholic priest and former foreign minister under Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government, headed the body and attracted criticism for some of his statements, particularly about the U.S. and Israel.

Allimadi says Kutesa is not the best candidate Africa has to offer and urged him to withdraw his candidacy.

“The right thing to do would be for Mr. Kutesa to just bow out and the African continent would still have the opportunity to have another candidate take this position," he said. "Africa has many stellar potential candidates.”

Barring that unlikely outcome, Kutesa will be proclaimed president of the 69th session of the General Assembly on Wednesday and take up his duties in September.

You May Like

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs