Sam Kahamba Kutesa is Uganda’s current Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position he has held since January 13 2005. He is also the outgoing Member of Parliament for Mawogola County in Sembabule District.
Born on February 1, 1949, Kutesa attended Mbarara High School for his secondary education before joining Makerere University where he obtained a Bachelors Degree of Law. He also holds a Diploma in Legal Practice from Law Development Centre (LDC) in Kampala.
From 1973 to 2001, Kutesa was in private law practice. He served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Mbarara North Constituency from 1980 to 1985 and as Attorney General from 1985 to 1986. Between 1994 and 1995, he served as a delegate to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1995 Ugandan Constitution.
He was first elected MP for Mawogola County in 2001 and then re-elected in three consecutive general elections.
He was Minister of State for Investment from 2001 to 2005. President Yoweri Museveni appointed Sam Kutesa as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2005, following the death of James Wapakhabulo.
As Africa was due to hold the presidency of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the African Union Executive Council unanimously chose him to be their candidate after the withdrawal of Cameroonian Foreign Minister Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo. His candidature was endorsed unanimously during the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in Algiers, Algeria in May 2013. He was officially elected by the UNGA on 11, June 2014.
Because Kutesa defended the discriminatory Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, human rights organizations felt his UN presidential position was not supportive of the values embodied in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A petition asked United States Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke Kutesa’s visa and thereby keep him from assuming the role of president of the UNGA. The petition, which got over 15,000 signatures on Change.org, was written by a Ugandan, Milton Allimadi, editor of Black Star News. He highlighted Kutesa’s support of the Ugandan anti-gay bill and allegations of corruption. In spite of protests and the petition, Kutesa became the president until 2015.
In 2011, the ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) member was accused in a parliamentary investigation of receiving bribes as kickbacks from Irish oil firm Tullow Oil. Despite calls from MPs for him to resign along with the others accused, a lawyer, Severino Twinobusingye, managed to successfully sue the Attorney General and halt the proceedings and to block the calls for resignation. Following further suspicion around the incident as a result of Tullow Oil’s court case with Heritage Oil over its tax on Uganda assets, an ad-hoc parliamentary committee was convened to further investigate the allegations of corruption.
In 2018, a Federal jury in New York City convicted Chi Ping Patrick Ho, the head of a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Hong Kong and Virginia on seven counts for his participation in a multi –year , multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantage for a Chinese oil and gas company.
It is alleged that Kutesa, while still President of UN General Assembly was among the beneficiaries of the bribe.
Kutesa allegedly received USD500,000 (approximately Shs1.8 billion) which was paid via wires transmitted through New York to account designated by the Minister.
Kutesa is married to Edith Gasana and the couple has four children who include Charlotte Nankunda Kutesa, Ishta Asiimwe Kutesa, Elizabeth Kutesa, Inga Kutesa.
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