Bloomberg News

Ugandan Lawmakers to Resume Probe of 3 Ministers on Oil Payouts

February 22, 2012

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Ugandan lawmakers may resume next week investigations over allegations that three ministers took bribes to endorse oil deals after the Constitutional Court today lifted an injunction against the probe.

Parliament is “excited about the ruling” because it will enable it to conclude the investigations that were halted after a month, Michael Werikhe, chairman of the committee handling the probe, said by phone from the capital, Kampala.

Lawmakers in the East African nation formed the committee on Oct. 27 to investigate Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onek, who held the energy portfolio until May last year. and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa. The ministers denied the allegations in parliament on Oct. 11. A court ordered the investigation be stopped after Severino Twinobusingye, a Kampala lawyer, petitioned for it to be halted, arguing parliament didn’t give the ministers a fair hearing when the allegations were made.

The Constitutional Court ruled that parliament was right in forming the committee to investigate the ministers, according to today’s ruling by Deputy Chief Justice Alice Mpagi Bahigeine.

“We shall resume investigations next week following today’s ruling,” said Werikhe. “It is a cause to smile because we need to have the truth out.”

The committee will need two more months to conclude its work since its mandate is only for three months, he said.

London-based Tullow Oil Plc discovered commercially viable oil deposits in the Lake Albert basin in 2006. Uganda has an estimated 2.5 billion barrels of oil, according to the explorer.

--Editors: Ana Monteiro, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at fojambo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net


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