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Germany halts aid to Uganda over corruption scandal

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sat, 1 Dec 2012 17:37 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BERLIN, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Germany has suspended aid to Uganda in protest over corruption and alleged military support for rebels in Congo, making it the latest European country to halt payments in the wake of a scandal involving the theft of donors' funds.

The corruption scandal, involving the siphoning off of some $13 million in donor funds, has already led Britain - Uganda's biggest donor - to suspend aid to Kampala. Denmark, Norway and Ireland have followed suit.

"Even though no German funds are affected (by the scandal), I have ordered that Germany, in unison with other aid donors, withhold payment of budget aid," German International Development Minister Dirk Niebel said.

"We thereby send a clear message ... (Aid) is an expression of our highest trust in responsible governance by our cooperation partners," he said in a statement issued on Friday.

He gave no figures for the amount in question but said aid pledges for 2013-2015 had also been "put on ice".

Uganda has said it is determined to punish all officials involved in embezzling the money, which was meant to fund recovery efforts in northern areas of the country after a lengthy insurgency by the Lord's Resistance Army.

Niebel said Germany was also disturbed by suggestions that Uganda provided logistical and material support for the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and said the claims needed to be verified.

Uganda denies backing the rebels in its western neighbour.

Germany was equally concerned about legislation that will impose an array of jail terms for convicted homosexuals, including life imprisonment in certain circumstances. U.S. President Barack Obama has branded the bill as "odious".

"If discrimination against human rights is voted through by the Ugandan parliament, this would have consequences for our cooperation," said Niebel.

Aid accounts for about 25 percent of Uganda's annual budget.

Cutting the funds would put public investments in health and education at risk in Africa's largest coffee exporter.

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