Saturday, March 26, 2011

Government of Uganda to freeze Libyan assets

Kampala - The government of the Republic of Uganda will impose a freeze on Libyan assets in Uganda, but it opposes the West’s military onslaught on the North African country.

Presenting a statement in Parliament on Thursday, International Cooperation Minister Okello Oryem said the government will implement the UN-initiated sanctions that include enforcing a travel ban on Col. Muammar Gaddafi. “All the assets which benefit the Libyan government here in Uganda will be frozen in accordance with the UN resolution,” he said. “We have just one month to enforce the sanctions from the date they were issued (February 26). We have written to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking for guidelines on how to implement the sanctions.” The minister also said the Sanctions Committee chaired by Portugal met in New York yesterday for its first formal meeting to consider and approve the draft guidelines.

Allaying fears that some Ugandans employed by a string of Libyan-owned companies could be affected in the process, Mr Oryem said businesses will run normally but the money will be channeled to a special account until the sanctions are lifted. The Libyan government owns a string of multi-billion shilling companies in Uganda. They include Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), National Housing Construction Company, Tropical Bank, Laico Lake Victoria Hotel, Tamoil East Africa and OilLibya. Globally, Libya’s assets are registered under the Libya Arab Africa Investment Co (Laaico), a $5 billion undertaking under Libya Oil Holdings, Libya African Investment Portfolio and Libyan Foreign Investment Company (Lafico).

Gaddafi and Queen Best are known to enjoy a special, mysterious relationship.
But Mr Oryem puts Libya investments in Uganda at about $375m (UShs862.5 billion), spread over various sectors of the economy. Libya has also demonstrated generosity towards Uganda by way of funding several projects, most prominent among are the construction of the Gaddafi National Mosque and the renovation of Toro Royal Palace. He is believed to enjoy a very close relationship with Queen Best Kemigisha, the Queen Mother of Toro.

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