Minister Kitt in Tokyo for Conference on African Development
The Minister of State with responsibility for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr. Tom Kitt T.D. has been taking part in a high-level Ministerial Conference in Tokyo on African development. The Conference provides an important forum for discussions between over 20 African Heads of State and their donor partners, including UN Agencies and other organisations.
Minister Kitt welcomed the establishment of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the creation of the African Union (to replace the OAU) as the most important strategic developments in Africa in recent years.
Minister Kitt stated:
“After decades of decline the real possibility of progress in Africa is symbolised by the new dynamism of these organisations. In taking ownership of their own development, African leaders must collectively take responsibility for addressing key constraints to progress including conflict, poverty, HIV/AIDS and governance including democracy and human rights.”
The Conference provided a valuable opportunity for a meeting between Minister Kitt and President Museveni of Uganda. Uganda is one of Ireland's key development partners in Africa where much progress has been made in recent years in reducing poverty.
Minister Kitt and President Museveni discussed the recent trade negotiations in Cancun. President Museveni outlined the concerns of developing countries in relation to trade. He stressed that while access is important, equally important is the ability of developing countries to compete. Minister Kitt reiterated his view that the multi-lateral trading system is still the best way forward for developing and developed countries alike. He added that it is important that the multilateral system of dialogue is put back on the rails and that the very real concerns of the least developed countries in the world are fully taken into account.
Following recent discussions in Dublin with the Ugandan Foreign Minister, Minister Kitt and President Museveni discussed Ireland's programme of development cooperation with Uganda and concerns in relation to governance and previous Ugandan involvement in the DRC.
President Museveni expressed appreciation for Ireland's support for poverty reduction in Uganda and he reiterated his commitment to tackling corruption and promoting good governance in his country. In relation to concerns regarding Ugandan involvement in the DRC, he assured Minister Kitt that he intends to implement the recommendations of the Porter Commission.
Note for Editors:
What is the Porter Commission?
Following the publication of a UN report in 2001 which criticised the activities of a number of Ugandans in connection with the exploitation of the resources of the DRC (the same report criticised the governments of Zimbabwe, Rwanda, the DRC itself and Angola for the same exploitation), the Ugandan Government established an independent tribunal to look into the allegations against the Ugandans.
The tribunal was headed by a British-born judge, Justice David Porter, assisted by four others, including another judge and a senior (retired) UN official. The tribunal, named the Porter Commission, took evidence in Uganda over an eighteen month period and its report was published in May of this year. It recommended prosecutions against a number of individuals and that there be a criminal investigation against others. One prominent person named was the army Chief of Staff, General James Kazini, who was dismissed from his post following the publication of the report and who is now under investigation. The Ugandan government issued a White (policy) Paper at the time of the publication of the Porter Commission report which promises to implement all of the recommendations of Porter.