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Activists contest legality of new oil agreements

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By Betty Ndagire

Posted  Monday, February 6  2012 at  00:00
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Activists have challenged government on the legality of the newly-signed oil agreements in connection with oil production and sharing until all affected parties are compensated.

Civil society organisations have also threatened to work with their international partners to blacklist Tullow Oil to challenge the legality of the agreements in the Constitutional Court.

“We are mobilising communities to oppose the construction of pipelines and refineries until a new law providing for their compensation, resettlement and conflict resolutions is in place,” Mr Henry Mugisha, the chairman of the Oil Network Uganda, said during a media briefing in Kampala last week.

The remarks came hardly a day after government and Tullow Oil signed a production sharing agreement which gives the company rights to sell its shares in the oil fields.
Daily Monitor reported that as a result of the agreement, Tullow will now finalise arrangements with Chinese company, CNOOC and France’s Total for completion of the farm-down and related transfer of funds.

Blocked
However, early this year, a Kampala lawyer, Mr Hamada Mulumba, petitioned court to halt government from signing any oil deals. Last week, Kampala High Court Judge Eldad Mwanguhya set March 5 for hearing of the application for temporary stay.

The lawyers petitioned embassies of UK, China and France seeking for diplomatic missions to restrain any dealings until court determines the case. Mr Mugisha said: “We are mobilising people to go to Parliament to demand the censure of the Minister for Energy Irene Muloni and sacking of PS Kalisa Kabagambe.”

Mr Dickens Kamugisha, the chief executive officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance, said the deals were a disgrace for government to ignore Parliament’s resolutions.

“The government has gone so far in exposing its selfish motives when it allows ministers implicated oil bribery and fraud scandals to stay in office and to preside over the signing of the oil contracts,” Mr Kamugisha said.