Looming aid cuts push Uganda to talk

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Kampala - Ugandan officials were holding talks with the European Union on Friday over a controversial anti-gay bill that has left the East African nation facing sanctions and aid cuts.

Last month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill that calls for “repeat homosexuals” to be jailed for life, outlaws any promotion of homosexuality and requires people to report homosexuals.

The European parliament responded by backing sanctions against Uganda, saying the country had violated human rights and democratic principles. It also called on the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to launch an “urgent political dialogue”.

Ugandan officials said the country's foreign minister, Sam Kutesa, would be meeting on Friday with the head of the EU delegation in Uganda, Kristian Schmidt.

“It is a dialogue between the European Union and the Uganda government on the anti-homosexuality law,” Uganda's foreign affairs spokesman, Fred Opolot, told AFP.

“It is going to be a closed meeting,” he added.

The EU is one of the top donors to Uganda, with more than 460 million euros channelled into aid programmes each year.

Some EU members, including Denmark and the Netherlands, have already announced they will cut bilateral aid.

Annual foreign aid to Uganda accounts for a fifth of the East African country's $12-billion annual budget. - AFP

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