The attorney general William Byaruhanga is seeking Shs 24bn to facilitate negotiations between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the settlement of a $10 billion plunder case.
In 2005, the United Nation's International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Uganda violated the sovereignty of the DRC and is responsible for human rights abuses committed from August 1997 to June 2003 by Ugandan army officers and their commanders.
The court also found that Ugandan soldiers plundered Congo's natural resources mainly timber and gold and must pay appropriate compensation to the government and people of DRC.
Meeting with the legal and parliamentary affairs committee on Thursday, Byaruhanga said that they need Shs 24.3 billion for the financing of Uganda’s defense at the International Court of Justice.
Byaruhanga said that although the court had asked Uganda and the DRC to settle the matter out of court, DRC demanded $23 billion which he said was too much for Uganda.
Byaruhanga says that Uganda has however offered $150 million but DRC is yet to agree to the amount. According to Byaruhanga, Uganda stands a big risk if the matter goes back to court as they could make an extravagant award. Byaruhanga says Uganda and DRC are expected to come to a conclusion on the matter in March.
"Now the problem here is you stand a risk if you allow this matter to go to court because the courts may not understand for example that we’re immediate neighbours with DRC as you all know. We have issues of rebels; rebels in their country and vice versa. Now, if you allow this to go to the court you expose yourself basically. With the recent advent of the new leadership in DRC, all I can say is he’s now agreed with the host president of ours that they are going to finalize this matter."
However, committee chairperson Jacob Oboth Oboth questioned if the money they are seeking is still required following successful on-going negotiations.
"Who's benefiting from this case, it has been ongoing for a very long time. This Shs 24 billion those are the costs envisaged to facilitate attendance?"