Uganda govt officials resign ahead of graft trial

By Elias BiryabaremaKAMPALA, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Three senior Ugandan government officials resigned on Wednesday ahead of a court appearance in which they are due to face corruption charges.There has been growing anger in Uganda about reports of corruption among lawmakers and President Yoweri Museveni has faced local and international criticism for failing to stamp out graft.Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, government Chief Whip John Nasasira and junior Labour Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana stepped down a day before they were due to be charged with abuse of office and causing financial loss to the government, said a statement from the three seen by Reuters.”We shall definitely take opportunity to plead our innocence and demonstrate that we are not guilty of the offences charged,” the statement said.”We have, in order to allow for the due process of the court, which we highly believe in, and in the interest of the party to which we belong and the Government we serve, deemed it prudent and desirable to seek leave from our Appointing Authority so as to step aside, until this matter is concluded,” the statement added.The court issued the summons after receiving a charge sheet from the government’s inspector general which said the three were responsible for the loss of 14 billion shillings ($4.9 million) while presiding over preparations to host the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.Uganda spent an estimated 500 billion shillings to host the meeting. Opposition and critics say much of that was embezzled.The charge sheet said the three ministers irregularly committed the government to fund construction work at a private hotel.

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