Daily Monitor | Inside Uganda’s Missions Abroad | Death threats cited as Ugandan envoys fight

Posted July 30, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Uganda's Embassies ~ 2,783 views


embassy intrigue

The Daily Monitor — The row between career diplomats and politicians appointed Uganda’s ambassadors abroad has intensified, with one envoy alleging that two embassy employees are plotting to kill him.

Mr Richard Laus Angualia, Uganda’s Ambassador to Cairo, has told Foreign Affairs ministry officials in Kampala that Ugandan students at Al-Azhar University were being mobilised to attack the embassy as a pretext to snuff him out.

The plan, according to the envoy, was publicly revealed during an April 8, 2014 meeting between him and the leadership of the Uganda Muslim Association in Cairo. The masterminds have been holding secret meetings within the embassy and, on occasions, at the residence of one of the female staff, he said. “What is at stake is [that] a plan to attack and kill me [while] on duty has been uncovered, and no doubt, this is a serious matter…,” Amb Angualia noted in a letter to Foreign Affairs ministry permanent secretary James Mugume.

This newspaper could not independently ascertain the truth in the allegations, and is therefore withholding identities of the implicated career diplomats.

In Kampala, Mr Mugume confirmed receiving reports of the death threats and said they had advised Amb Angualia to petition the Egyptian government as his host, because “it is their responsibility to provide protection to our Foreign Mission the same way we do here”.

He said: “There is nothing much we can do about it; we cannot create for him (Angualia) a special protection force. He is guaranteed of Uganda’s security within the embassy premises but when he gets out [of office], it becomes the responsibility of Egypt.”

Our investigations show that power struggles between career diplomats and politicians, most of them election losers, at other Ugandan embassies is boiling over. Mr Angualia himself was named ambassador after losing a 2011 bid to represent Maracha constituency.

Only eight out of the current 34 heads of Uganda’s foreign missions are career diplomats, with an unusually higher number of election losers inserted into ambassadorial positions during the 2012 reshuffle of diplomats.

Highly-placed government sources have told this newspaper of heightened tension and mutual mistrust between seasoned diplomats, who on the one hand feel they are more qualified to be ambassadors and on the other hand, a collection of bossy politicians installed as their supervisors. This has suffocated career growth for diplomats, and triggered misunderstandings that have reportedly fractured work relations among staff at some missions abroad, promoted unprincipled rivalry and lowered staff morale.

Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said “we are working on correcting the imbalance between political and career diplomats,” but attributed the fights to scarce resources. “The problem between ambassadors and their accounting officers,” Mr Kutesa said, “is to do with money. That is to be addressed.”

As a short term measure, the minister proposes that the government authorises each individual embassy to withhold and use locally-generated non-tax revenue, including for refurbishing blighted embassy buildings.

Retired Ambassador Harold Acemah, a former deputy head of Uganda’s Brussels mission, had warned that the ongoing friction between career and political diplomats was a ticking time bomb. “The tragedy of parachuting politicians as ambassadors is that we, as a country, get grossly misrepresented, Amb Acemah said, “The embassies are Uganda’s windows abroad; if you send someone wanting, the damage that they do is enormous and irreparable.”

Investigations underway
Kampala is investigating reports that a fallout between career diplomats and the ambassador in Canberra, Australia, has resulted in the cancellation of medical insurance for staff. Similar frictions have been reported at Uganda’s High Commission in Nigeria and the Washington D.C. embassy, where a female accounting officer is, on Ambassador Oliver Wonekha’s insistence, staying after end of her tour of duty. Ms Wonekha, the former woman MP for Bududa District, was defeated in the 2011 elections before being handpicked as an envoy.

In New York, there are murmurs, discounted by Foreign Affairs PS Mugume as “malicious propaganda”, about appointment of a wife of one of the diplomats there to replace another diplomat whom minister Kutesa, the incoming president of the UN General Assembly, tapped to be an assistant.

Insiders say it is irregular for Margaret, a First Secretary and more senior diplomat, to act in the subordinate Third Secretary position and at the same diplomatic mission where she was recalled just a couple of years ago.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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