Ivory scam: Uganda apologises to China
KAMPALA. – The government of Uganda has offered an apology to China in a bid to calm heightened diplomatic tensions after President Museveni mistakenly named two Chinese “diplomats” in the illegal sale of ivory in a May 2 letter.
Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa told The Observer in a June 6 interview that government did its own investigations and concluded that the two men President Museveni referred to as Chinese diplomats attached to the Kampala embassy have actually never worked there.
“One thing which is clear is that there was a mistake (in the president’s letter). We have since checked records and found out that the two men have never worked at the embassy. None of them is a diplomat,” Kutesa said. “I have found in the records that the two men just entered Uganda and moved out. They never stayed here,” Kutesa added.
On May 2, the president wrote to the Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja ordering an investigation into the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and two Chinese diplomats, Li Wejin and one Yinzhi, who he accused of involvement in the illegal trafficking of ivory smuggled from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Shortly after the letter became public in early June, the Chinese ambassador to Uganda, Zheng Zhuqiang, protested against its contents, saying they were based on wrong information.
He requested that Uganda formally repairs the damage the letter had caused to their embassy’s image.
Wary of the possibility of hurting his close ties to China, the president reportedly asked the Foreign Affairs ministry to take immediate steps to resolve the matter.
This was after China demanded that the Ugandan government restores the Chinese embassy’s reputation, which Zheng said on June 3 was damaged by president Museveni’s letter. – Daily Monitor