Ugandan Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi has apologized for the reported misappropriation of €12 million ($15.6 million) in aid money, but reactions following the incident indicate “the damage has been done.”
“We regret that this happened. As a country and Government, we are sorry it happened. It was obviously a criminal act. The theft was massive. We regret. It is a pity,” the prime minister said to local paper New Vision.
Mbabazi noted that while some of the money was paid to private, unauthorized accounts, a portion of the amount was still used for its intended purpose but was “irregularly managed.” He also insisted on his innocence claiming that he “never knew of the money” and that as prime minister, his role does not involve handling of government money.
Despite the apology, Britain has joined Ireland in suspending aid payments to the prime minister’s office. British money is not included in the missing aid fund, but such a precaution was said to be warranted given that the case is “extremely” serious. And in a meeting attended by representatives from affected donor countries, Irish Ambassador to Uganda Anne Webster made it clear that her government wants the missing funds repaid.
The issue is still being investigated. In the meantime, 17 officials have been suspended, including the commissioner for disaster, while some are still being questioned about their involvement in the embezzlement.
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