Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's younger brother – Reserve Force commander and army representative in parliament, Lt-Gen Salim Saleh – has resigned amid persistent allegations that he spearheaded his country's plunder of natural resources in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during nearly five years of Ugandan occupation.
Saleh stands accused of facilitating international companies in eastern DRC to illicitly exploit the country's abundant natural wealth - including diamonds, gold, timber, ivory and coltan - while he was commanding Ugandan forces there.
In May, Uganda's judiciary published the results of an inquiry into allegations by a UN panel accusing Uganda and Rwanda of prolonging war in the DRC in order to rob its resources. The UN report had implicated Saleh, Museveni and his son, Maj Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
The inquiry exonerated Museveni and his son, but found Saleh guilty of setting up ghost companies as a cover for illicit trafficking in timber and minerals.
Saleh's resignation on Thursday follows a cabinet decision two weeks ago to prosecute him for a multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the ministry of defence in which he was found to have taken a US $800,000 bribe to buy two second-hand attack helicopters from the former Soviet Union which later turned out to be junk. The helicopters and the resultant lengthy dispute is estimated to have cost Uganda – one of the world's poorest countries – around US $13 million.
In his resignation letter, submitted to parliament on Thursday, he accused his detractors of politically motivated attacks on his reputation.
"These allegations are an injustice whose intention can only be to embarrass me and bring the army into disrepute," Saleh said in his letter.
Ugandan government-owned The New Vision newspaper reported on Saturday that the Speaker of parliament, Edward Ssekandi, accepted Saleh's resignation.
"Your past and present involvement in solving many of the problems our country Uganda has faced makes you a great legislator from whom many other members of parliament have benefited and would continue to benefit. We shall greatly miss you," it quoted Ssekandi as having written on Friday in his reply to Saleh.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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