Minister Kitt holds discussions with President of Uganda
The Minister of State with responsibility for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr Tom Kitt TD., held discussions with the President of Uganda, Mr Yoweri Museveni, in Dublin today.
Building on a meeting they had in Tokyo last month, Minister Kitt raised with President Museveni the full range of his concerns in relation to Uganda's involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and governance issues in Uganda. On the DRC, he drew attention to the questions raised in a recent report by a UN Panel of Experts which has been investigating the illegal exploitation of the DRC's mineral resources. He also recalled his own decision, taken following a visit to Uganda last June, to redirect a portion of Ireland's aid funding for Uganda into a ring- fenced Poverty Action Fund. This decision arose from concerns about Ugandan military expenditure levels and about governance issues.
At the same time, Minister Kitt acknowledged the very significant progress Uganda has made in development terms in recent years. Under President Museveni's leadership, it has achieved dramatic improvements in poverty indicators such as HIV/AIDS infection rates and school enrolment. It is internationally recognised as one of the best development performers.
“President Museveni's visit”, the Minister commented afterwards, “is part of our ongoing dialogue with Uganda. I had a very useful visit to Uganda last June during which I saw for myself the very real benefits we are achieving with our aid funding. We are improving living conditions for the poorest of the poor in Uganda. Our involvement with Uganda is underpinned by a critical dialogue in which all of our concerns are placed squarely on the table”.
“Dialogue and cooperation,” the Minister continued, “are essential to achieving progress. The answer to the challenges presented by Uganda is not to walk away but to stay engaged and to apply pressure for change through this engagement. In Uganda, Ireland works with many other donors. Our dialogue with the Ugandan Government, individually and collectively, has influenced a number of positive developments. One major example was Uganda's decision earlier this year to withdraw all its troops from the DRC”.
Corruption remains a key issue in Uganda as in other developing countries. This is in itself a development challenge and Ireland is working in various ways under its development cooperation programme in Uganda to address this.
Minister Kitt said that he will be monitoring closely all developments in relation to Uganda and will keep the Government's development cooperation policy on Uganda under continuous review. Overall, he commented, “I am satisfied, and the Government is satisfied, that Uganda merits continuing priority attention within our programme. The needs of the people of Uganda are enormous. These are among the poorest and the most vulnerable people in the world. The aid we provide is focused on their basic needs. We have a rigorous set of controls in place which ensure full accountability. With these, we are able to protect our aid investment and to facilitate the longer-term development of Uganda and its people”.