Uganda's high commissioner to Kenya refuses to hand over

Sunday November 29 2020
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Outgoing Uganda's High Commissioner to Nairobi, Phibby Otaala

By Job Bwire

Uganda's High Commissioner to Nairobi, Kenya Phibby Otaala has said she will not hand over to Hassan Galiwango, who was recently appointed and vetted by Parliament for the position.

Ms Otaala said she has never been recalled by the appointing authority, President Museveni, despite leaving office to participate in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) primaries for Tororo District Woman MP.

“I’m still the substantive ambassador of Uganda to Kenya. I don't have any recall letter from my boss (the President) and why should I?” she said.

Ms Otaala said there were rumours that she had resigned created by “some people who wanted to confuse the public.”

"I did not resign. I just came to participate in my party elections because before I was appointed ambassador, I was an executive member at NEC level," Ms Otaala told NTV Uganda.

According to her, Galiwango was vetted for another position.


"We have five other embassies hanging. They did not vet him for Nairobi. If they vetted him for Nairobi then that's byoya bya nswa (metaphorically means an insufficient provision that is much less than the ideal). I'm not even about to leave. We cannot be two ambassadors in the same area. He can go to China, Japan, Angola and Geneva, among others. He should not look at where I am. Nairobi etandise okumpomera [Nairobi is just getting sweeter for me]," she said.

Last month, President Museveni appointed Galiwango as the high commissioner to Kenya.

The former director of finance and administration at the NRM secretariat described his appointment to the media as a "normal" one.

The long-serving director of finance was replaced at the secretariat by Medina Naham, the NRM party chairperson of Koboko District.

He is the husband of current Mbale Woman MP Connie Galiwango.

When contacted, Senior Presidential Press Secretary, Don Wanyama, said the President writes to Speaker, a nominee attends vetting in Parliament and that’s what Dr Hassan Galiwango did.

"Who says it's her [Ms Otaala] duty to determine when to stay or leave office," Mr Wanyama, wondered.

Dr Galiwango said Sunday that he had no time to respond to Ms Otaala since she is not the appointing authority.

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Recently appointed Uganda's High Commissioner to Nairobi, Dr Hassan Galiwango

"I was appointed by the President and vetted by Parliament. I don't have time to respond to Phibby [Ms Otaala] because she is not the appointing authority," he told Monitor on phone.

The High Commission in Kenya is only one of Uganda’s 36 foreign missions where chaos is brewing while would-be-supervisors, technocrats in the Foreign Affairs ministry in Kampala, have their hands tied.

At best, the technocrats remain tongue-tied, with the Head of the Mission accused of conducting herself like she is only answerable to the appointing authority, the President.

Ms Otaala, a ruling party cadre, was named envoy to Nairobi during the latest ambassador’s reshuffle in January 2017.

She replaced Ambassador Angelina Wapakhabulo, who elected to retire.

Over the past months, Ambassador Otaala has been locked in a turf war with her would-be supervisors in Kampala over renovation of Uganda House in Nairobi, which sources indicated to Daily Monitor she wanted to fast-track outside normal public service procedures but was reined in on.

But Ms Otaala reportedly asked the President to intervene, who then wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa questioning why the ministry in Kampala was antagonising Ms Otaala.

The Nairobi City Council had directed last year that the property be renovated to meet the required standards of buildings in the city.

Pulling of the rope between Ambassador Otaala and technocrats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Finance, over the renovation, continues.