Kampala has apologised to Beijing over President Museveni’s remarks about alleged Chinese diplomats’ participation in the illegal ivory business.
Museveni recently tasked the Inspector General of Government to investigate claims that UWA officials were collaborating with Chinese nationals Li Wejin and Yinzhi, thumb who are diplomats in the Chinese Embassy in the country, approved to export ivory from DRC, find CAR and S. Sudan.
But it later emerged that Museveni’s instructions were based on fake intelligence from security officials and whistleblowers.
The comments also triggered a diplomatic backlash, with China dismissing the allegations as “totally unfounded”.
“We have rigorous regulations and laws on governmental officials, embassy members, and visiting groups to forbid them from buying or engaging in (smuggling) activities,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.
But she added: “We will punish them if they are found to be engaged in such activities.”
The Uganda Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Amb Patrick Mugoya said in a statement on June 12 that the so-called diplomats don’t exist.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform all to whom it may concern that following a thorough review of its records, it has confirmed that both Mr. Li Wejin and Yinzhi are not accredited diplomats with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Uganda,” reads the statement sent to ChimpReports.
“The Ministry regrets the negative impact this incident may have caused to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China,” said Mugoya.
He said China and Uganda continue to “enjoy very cordial relations.”
The incident has raised fears that some unscrupulous security officials continue to mislead the president for selfish reasons.
It’s understood UWA boss Andrew Seguya’s contract expires later this year.
Many of his rivals would not wish to see his term of office renewed so as to take over the lucrative position.
The development also underscores the vulnerability of the president in dealing with information.
Mugoya reiterated government’s commitment to “strengthening further the relations and bonds of friendship that exist between our two countries.”
China has in recent years lent billions of dollars to support Uganda’s infrastructural projects.