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Uganda’s Deputy Head of Mission in Turkey Refuses to Hand Over Office

A Ugandan politician-turned-diplomat has sued the Attorney General and Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Amb Patrick Mugoya after being recalled from his posting in Ankara, Turkey.

It all started in 2011 with Moses Kalule Kasujja Kagodo, the then NRM Publicity Secretary of Mukono and Buikwe districts, meeting President Museveni.

The President persuaded Kasujja to quit the race for Mukono North constituency, saying it was dangerous for NRM to front two candidates to take on opposition ironlady Betty Nambooze.

Kasujja stepped down for Rev Bakaluba Mukasa after Museveni promised him the position of Deputy Head of Mission to Turkey.

Indeed on August 3, 2011, Kasujja was deployed in Turkey where he served for four years.

At the end of his tour of duty on March 13, 2017, Kasujja was recalled back home, a move that has sparked fire at the Ministry.

Foreign Affairs Ministry officials said they could not comment on a matter before court.

Kasujja speaks out

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But Kasujja says the recall has been done “without the consent and authority of President Museveni who is seized with the Constitutional powers of appointment.”

He also argues that the decision of the Ministry is “illegal, arbitrary, unfair and offends the rules of natural justice” as he was not consulted or given reason.

Kasujja also contends “no specific claim or misconduct or failure to perform has been brought to my attention,” adding, the recall is a subtle way of demoting him from his substantive position.

The unfolding drama has left many at the Ministry shocked as recalled officers usually wait for future postings.

Despite running the Uganda Institute for Diplomacy and International Affairs as a regional centre of excellence to develop a more skilled and professional diplomatic corps, most of the Foreign Service posts are occupied by politicians without experience in Foreign Service.

This has crowded the Foreign Service with failed and inexperienced politicians, undermining Uganda’s foreign policy.

But the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Amb James Mugume recently said it was “important to recognise that all over the world, Foreign Services have a mixture of both career and non-career Officer Corps,” adding, “Younger nations have more non-career diplomats either to create political harmony or fill specific skills gaps.”

In fact Kasujja says in his court petition that his appointment was arrived at after a “mutual understanding with President Museveni that “I abandon contesting for Mukono North constituency so that I serve in this present capacity.”

Lack of knowledge

But officials say Kasujja did not understand conditions of the position given to him by the President.

The Deputy Head of Mission falls under the administration of the Permanent Secretary who reserves the right to recall and redeploy diplomats.

It’s only the Head of Mission who can be recalled by the President. The rest can be deployed anywhere by the Permanent Secretary.

Ordinarily, diplomats serve a minimum of four years abroad and maximum of three at the station (Foreign Affairs Ministry).

In Kasujja’s case, he had already served his tour of duty.

“He had done four years and was due for recall,” said an official, emphasizing, “He didn’t understand the nature of position given to him.”

Interestingly, Kasujja now says he won’t leave his post until his concerns are resolved.

“I have not handed over office and I am still in usage and occupation thereof,” he says in the court documents.

Kasujja wants court to quash the decisions of the Ministry which he says are intended to “deliberately demote me and terminate my appointment without consent of the president” and tantamount to ”total abuse of office to damage my well earned career that I have developed for seven years or so.”

But the standing orders provide for public servants to sue their respective Ministries only after obtaining consent from the Solicitor General, a key document Kasujja is yet to receive.

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