Ugandan president denies oil bribery claims

Uganda Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.  By Peter Busomoke AFPFile
OCT 12, 2011 LISTEN
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. By Peter Busomoke (AFP/File)

KAMPALA (AFP) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni rejected corruption claims Wednesday after lawmakers put a freeze on new oil contracts over claims that government ministers accepted bribes for tenders.

"I have never been given any money by anybody," the president told journalists.

The vote late Tuesday also saw MPs backing the suspension of authorisation granted to Anglo-Irish energy firm Tullow Oil to sell a part of its Ugandan operation to France's Total and China's CNOOC.

Tullow Oil signed a deal with Kampala in March allowing it to sell one third of its assets in the east African country to Total and CNOOC, clearing the way for a $10-billion refinery in Uganda's oil rich Lake Albert region.

Claiming to have supporting documents, MP Gerald Karuhanga accused Uganda's Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and Interior Minister Hillary Onek, formerly minister of energy, of taking bribes from Tullow Oil.

The three denied the claims.

Museveni said some of the documents shown to parliament were "forgeries".

He also denied having taken bribes from Italian giant ENI in the sale of Tullow Oil shares.

"Did I receive money from ENI? I am the one who stopped them ... In fact I choose the Chinese. Italy is a small economy. China is a big economy. If you are to have a cooperation, you must relate with a big economy not a small one."

Earlier Wednesday, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and two other senior ruling party officials announced their resignation over charges of misusing funds for hosting the 2007 Commonwealth summit.

© 2011 AFP