UGANDA UNLIKELY TO PAY DR CONGO 10 BLN USD AWARDED BY ICJ, PARLIAMENT TOLD

KAMPALA, Uganda's Minister for Justice, Kahinda Otafiire, and Deputy Attorney-General, Mwesigwa Rukutana, have told Parliament's Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee that the country is unlikely to pay the 10 billion US dollars it has been ordered to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the International Court of Justice.

It has been more than a decade since the ICJ at The Hague in the Netherlands slapped Uganda with the 10 billion bill for allegedly pillaging the eastern DRC and committing crimes against humanity during the protracted insurgency in that country in the late 1990s. In 1999, the then DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila sued Uganda at the ICJ.

Rukutana told the lawmakers that Uganda was unlikely to pay the bill. "This matter is still being contested and it's really unlikely that we can pay that sort of money to DRC," Rukutana said.

Rukutana was among the government technocrats and top brass from Ministry of Justice led by Otafiire who were meeting legislators over the Ministry's budget estimates for the next fiscal year. Rukutana was responding to queries by MPs Sam Bitangaro and shadow attorney-general Wilfred Niwagaba over the government's reluctance to settle the issue with the DRC.

In 2014, former attorney-general Peter Nyombi led a delegation to South Africa to meet DRC officials over the 10 billion bill.

Uganda had been among several countries which had supported Kabila's three-year uprising which saw his forces overthrow President Mobutu Sese Seko's government in 1997.

However, after a fall-out between Kampala and Kinshasa, Kabila sued Uganda and the ICJ in 2005 granted its request of a 10 illion USD fine. Uganda insists the Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) troops were deployed in the Congo to protect Uganda's national security.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK