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Ugandan ministers resign amid graft claims

Kampala - Two Ugandan cabinet ministers resigned over corruption allegations on Thursday, bringing to six the number of ministers who have quit under a cloud following a string of graft scandals to hit President Yoweri Museveni's administration.

The two were forced to step down after a report by a parliamentary committee set up to probe allegations of corruption accused them of sanctioning an illegal multi-million-dollar payment to a businessman.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. Credit: REUTERS

The resignations of Syda Bbumba, minister for labour, gender and social development and Khidu Makubuya, minister for general duties, were announced in parliament.

“Yes, they have resigned. They have both said they take political responsibility,” Information Minister Mary Okurut told reporters.

The report said Bbumba, who was then finance minister, directed the central bank governor to issue guarantees for the payment, while Makubuya, who was then attorney general, handled the negotiations with the businessman, Hassan Basajjabalaba.

The report by parliament's public accounts committee had recommended the duo's sacking along with that of the central bank governor for sanctioning the payment of about $62-million, which the country's auditor general said was illegal.

“All the three officials caused colossal loss to the taxpayer, they must be relieved of their duties, prosecuted and any lost monies recovered,” said Kasiano Wadri, chairperson of parliament's public accounts committee.

Parliament's website reported that Bbumba told the assembly she was innocent although she had agreed to take political responsibility and resign.

Central bank governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile denied any wrongdoing and said he would not quit.

“The governor does not accept PAC's allegations,” said the central bank's spokesperson Jan Tibamwenda in an email to Reuters.

The latest resignations mean six ministers in total have resigned in under five months.

East Africa's third largest economy has maintained a growth rate of above five percent despite global financial turbulence, but analysts say the corruption allegations are denting its potential to attract investment capital.

The opposition has led demonstrations fuelled by widespread discontent over corruption and rising prices.

Uganda's parliament is also investigating reports that three ministers, one of them current prime minister Amama Mbabazi, took bribes connected to its emerging oil sector. - Reuters

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