Museveni, Pope Francis call for dialogue in Ukraine as Russia bays for cooperation in Africa, Uganda bows for Algeria in AFCON qualifier, Uganda in DR Congo to consolidate business relations

President Yoweri Museveni has joined world leaders in calling for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine as a key mechanism for resolving the conflict in the region of the former Soviet Union. Mr Museveni last week held a virtual meeting with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is President of the Untied Russian Party. Museveni and Medvedev’s meeting came a day after Todwong held talks with the Russian envoy to Uganda, Vladlen Semivolos, on June 1 at the NRM party’s headquarters in Kampala.  

On Sunday Pope Francis condemned the war in Ukraine after Russia’s ongoing invasion reached the 100-day mark. The Pontiff was speaking to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square in Rome following the Regina Coeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season. Thousands of faithful gathered on the feast of Pentecost with colorful banners and flags to pray with the pontiff on the hot, summer-like day. During his address, he urged world leaders to unite against war and work toward solutions.

“And while the fury of destruction and death rampages and the conflicts rage on, fuelling an escalation that is increasingly dangerous for all, I renew my appeal to the leaders of nations: do not lead humanity into ruin, please!” he pleaded. “Let true negotiations take place, real talks for a ceasefire and for a sustainable solution.”

He added, “Let the desperate cry of the suffering people be heard — we see this every day in the media — have respect for human life and stop the macabre destruction of cities and villages in the east of Ukraine.”

June 3 marked 100 days since the beginning of Russia’s invasion that has left thousands dead. The United Nations estimates that nearly 7 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, with many more displaced or stranded within Ukraine.

Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate for the Ukrainian people, has expressed a desire to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow and to travel to Ukraine when the “right time” comes.

Meanwhile, experts note that Russia is continuing calculated movements at consolidating relations with Africa for partnerships. On June 3, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, held talks with the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, who is also the Chairman of the African Union (AU) in Moscow, a move experts described as a direct indication of Russia’s move to Africa as a key cooperation partner.  

Russian envoy to Uganda, Semivolos, told NRM’s Todwong that the meeting between Putin and Sall, focused on issues of economic and humanitarian cooperation between Russia and the African states.

“Africa’s role on the international stage is growing. We believe that Africa as a whole and its countries, with which we traditionally share friendly relations, have huge potential, and we will continue to develop our relations with Africa and with its states,” Putin said.  

“Our trade with Africa grew by 34% this year. We are striving to develop cultural ties with African countries and will promote this process. Here in Russia people have always been interested in African culture, and it is a big part of our interaction. Our country has always been on Africa’s side and has always supported Africa in its fight against colonialism. We place a great emphasis on our relations with African countries,” Putin added. 

Aissa Mandi and Youcef Belaili netted in the first and second half respectively as Uganda Cranes were beaten 2-0 by Algeria on Saturday in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers. Hosts Algeria dominated the game in which Cranes star Farouk Miya missed a penalty that could have changed the tide. In the same group F, Tanzania drew 1-1 with Niger in the early kick off meaning that Uganda is now bottom with no points. Uganda will next face Niger on Thursday at St. Mary’s stadium, Kitende, outside Uganda’s capital Kampala, while Algeria will visit Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam. The top two teams frothe Group will qualify for AFCON.

A delegation of Ugandan businessmen, businesswomen and heads of government agencies responsible for trade and migration, including the Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Duties and Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development, Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, are in the DR Congo for the first Uganda-DR Congo Business Summit in Goma, North Kivu Province of the DRC. The delegation is headed by the first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, and co-ordinated by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda and will discuss joint investment ventures with their Congolese counterparts.

The government agencies in Kinshasa include Uganda Export Promotion Board, Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Tourism Board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Uganda National Bureau of Standards. Others are Uganda Airlines, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives, Ministry of Works and Transport, and Ministry of East African Community Affairs.

The Ugandan business community pitching at the Summit includes the Agriculture, Manufacturing, Construction, Banking, Transport, Logistics, Tourism and ICT sectors.

The high level summit opened officially on Monday with Congo’s Minister for Foreign Trade, His Excellency Juan Lucien Bussa, representing President Etienne Tshisekedi. Other Ministers present were; Julien Baluku (Industry), Didier Mazanga Makanzu (Regional Integration), Modero Nsimba Matondo (Tourism) and Eustache M. Muhanzi (SMEs).

The Head of the Uganda delegation committed that Uganda would work with DRC to iron out all the major issues affecting trade, including transportation, taxation and security. On his part, Minister Bussa said that President Tshisekedi just like President Museveni, was committed to integration, promotion of trade and creation of African billionaires, before adding that DRC would send a delegation of Government officials and businessmen to Kampala, for a reciprocal summit, as soon as possible.

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