Criticism grows as Ugandan minister set to take up UN post

Sam Kutesa’s political record and support for anti-gay bill in spotlight

A growing chorus of criticism is greeting the imminent appointment of Uganda’s foreign affairs minister as president of the United Nations General Assembly in the wake of the enactment of an anti-gay law that further criminalizes homosexuality in the African country.

According to The Guardian, Sam Kutesa, who is reportedly the only candidate for the ceremonial post, is set to be “elected by acclamation” on June 11.

Kutesa has faced criticism not only for his support of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, but for his political record, which includes allegations of corruption.

Maria Burnett, of Human Rights Watch, is quoted as saying that “there are real concerns about Sam Kutesa’s commitment to the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including his defence of Uganda’s profoundly discriminatory anti-homosexuality law.”

Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor-in-chief of New York-based Black Star News, echoes Burnett’s concerns and further alleges that Kutesa and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are complicit in the invasion of neighbouring countries South Sudan, Rwanda and DR Congo, actions that violate the United Nations’ principles regarding “respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A petition, spearheaded by Allimadi, a Ugandan, has attracted close to 6,000 signatures. It calls on the Obama administration to revoke Kutesa’s visa to enter the US so that he won’t be able to take up the post.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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