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Uganda MPs oppose UN proposal to relocate its regional centre to Nairobi

PARLIAMENT: Parliament will today pass a resolution formally protesting the decision by the United Nations Secretary General- Antonio Guterres to drop Entebbe as the UN regional service centre.

Parliament’s involvement in the matter comes after President Museveni wrote to Mr Guterres arguing that it is “unfair” to pick Nairobi over Entebbe to host the world body’s regional service centre in Africa even when Uganda and Kenya are “friendly neighbours”.

Secretary-general Guterres, in a May 1 report to UN’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), wrote recommending Kenya’s capital Nairobi as an alternative host, with the two other recommended locations being the Hungarian capital, Budapest and Mexico City, the Mexican capital.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga yesterday said that Uganda has been “paying with blood” in Africa, in reference to Uganda’s contribution to military missions around the continent and argued that it is fair for the base to be retained at Entebbe.

“This situation is grave. Kenya has got Unepi (United Nations Emergency programme on Immunisation) and so many other UN bodies. And Uganda, I think we have been paying with our blood, we have shed pure blood on this African continent much more than any other African country. I think we deserve to be supported,” Ms Kadaga said.

The envisaged resolution will detail Uganda’s role in maintaining peace on the continent and the UN facilities that are already hosted in Kenya, Ms Kadaga said, and it will be part of government’s efforts to lobby the United Nations to retain the base at Entebbe.

Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto, said Uganda is not fighting for peace in Somalia and previously in Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, in vain.

Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo, who will sponsor today’s resolution, warned that over 400 Ugandans will lose their jobs if Entebbe loses the rights to host the regional centre and said the government is not doing enough to retain the centre.

“Uganda is losing the UN base at Entebbe in favour of Nairobi. This base has been employing over 400 Ugandans directly but there are others who are benefitting from the base. Uganda shall be losing leverage because Entebbe is the only regional and continental base of the UN in Uganda,” Mr Ssekikubo.

It also emerged that workers from the UN regional centre have already petitioned Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee demanding that the government pulls all the stops to ensure that the UN base is maintained at Entebbe.

Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, indicated that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has already instituted a team to lobby through world capitals to put up a “spirited fight” to ensure that Uganda does not lose the UN regional base.

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