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Politics, bribery charges swirl around Ugandan oil

May 18, 2013 • Business


FILE–In this 2010 file photo, an oil well undergoes testing in the Lake Albertine region of western Uganda. Even before the first drops flow, Uganda’s oil sector is beset by bribery allegations against officials, tax-related cases abroad that cost the government millions in legal fees, and the alleged interference of a president whose firm control of the sector worries transparency campaigners. (AP Photo/Monitor Publications Ltd, File)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Even before the first drops flow, Uganda’s oil sector is beset by bribery allegations against officials, tax-related cases abroad that cost the government millions in legal fees, and the alleged interference of a president whose firm control of the sector worries transparency campaigners.

Uganda, which has confirmed oil deposits of about 3.5 billion barrels, wants to extract at least 1.2 billion barrels over the next three decades. That figure could rise when more oil blocks are put up for exploration later this year, potentially making Uganda one of Africa’s top oil producers.

But some experts and analysts worry that the country got off to a false start and remains too politically unstable to avoid some of the mistakes made by other oil-rich but otherwise poor countries.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has reserved for himself the right to have the final say before any deals are signed with oil companies, saying that policy is to ensure the country’s interests are always protected. But some critics say the president’s close involvement is unhelpful to a country that needs to focus on building credible, transparent institutions to manage its oil wealth whether or not Museveni is around.

In a session of parliament that sparked Login to read more

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