By Deus Makanga
Social media is awash with reports of Kampala-based businessman Sudhir Ruparelia being described as “Ambassador” or “His Excellency” and handed a “diplomatic car” to execute his duties.
Even sections of digital and mainstream media are providing misleading reports about Sudhir’s new role as Honorary Consul.
The truth is that Sudhir was earlier this year appointed Honorary Consul of Nepal, a landlocked South Asian country which is home to just over 26 million people.
Honorary Consuls do not use the title “Excellency”.
This title is reserved for persons with full Diplomatic Powers: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. These are the ones who present credentials to the Head of State.
The International Convention on Consular relations provides that letters of Credence to the Head of State are for Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (carrying full powers of a Head of State) and are exchanged at that level.
Honorary Consuls are usually agreed upon at technical level between Foreign Ministries.
Honorary Consuls present credentials to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sudhir presented his credentials to Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa in March 2020.
Latest pictures shared on social media showed Sudhir receiving a white land cruiser car complete with the Nepalese flag.
Flags are only used when going on official duty.
Honorary Consuls are not Diplomats in the strictest sense of the word.
Their appointment is mainly to improve the facilitation of business or in simple Consular assistance to Nationals of the country they represent.
You cannot be a diplomat in your own country. Sudhir is a Ugandan National and so he cannot receive diplomatic privileges or immunity within Uganda.
This is why Sudhir cannot represent Nepal at a higher level than one which is Honorary.
Please take note that Honorary Consuls don’t use CD number plates as is the case with diplomats.
The author is a retired senior citizen