Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has rejected a proposal by some MP to direct Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa to make a statement over bribery claims against him.
According to details of a criminal bribery case being prosecuted in the United States, Kutesa allegedly received a $500,000 bribe to help a Chinese firm obtain business advantages in the energy and banking sectors including potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank while serving as president of the United Nations General Assembly.
Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga on Tuesday this week raised a matter of national importance asking that Parliament through the speaker summons Kutesa to explain to the country the role he played in that bribery case to help a Chinese energy company to get unlicensed oil blocks in Uganda.
But Kadaga instead told the MPs to refer that issue to Financial Intelligence Authority.
“Lodge a complaint as a concerned citizen. If the offence was committed here, I would have no problem. But I have no control over another jurisdiction,’ Kadaga said.
“Are you now going to interrogate the state attorney in New York, really?” she added.
Although Karuhanga had also requested that Kutesa be investigated and brought to book as per Parliament Rules of Procedure, Kadaga said it would be immature for Parliament to indulge into the merits of the case since the laws of Uganda and those of USA differ.
"It is still premature at this stage to commence investigations because we don't know whether he is going to be a witness in the case, let us wait for the outcomes of the proceedings in the New York court," Kadaga said.
She however said that she would go through the documents availed before Parliament and later make her final ruling on the matter.
"The charge sheet tabled by Hon. Karuhanga relates to the two persons that I have named but the honourable Sam Kutesa is not charged, I have established that the alleged persons were arrested and are being tried in the USA judicial service system," Kadaga said.
But Karuhanga argued that Parliament needed to direct Kutesa to resign besides setting up a special committee to investigate the bribery allegations.
“It would be prudent to allow an impartial free and fair investigation without any influence by Kutesa utilising his position as minister to curtail any effective investigation."
Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo also argued it was necessary to give Kutesa opportunity to explain himself.
“They didn’t give an opportunity to the minister himself to get on record and if it was irrelevant as my colleague want us to believe, there is no way the foreign affairs would have been prompted to make denials,” Ssekikubo said.
“At the end of the day honourable members you should know that it’s not honourable Sam Kutesa at trial but it’s Uganda at trial,” he added.