Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 17:27 UK

Uganda Vice-President Bukenya 'must face fraud charges'

Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya
Gilbert Bukenya has refused to be questioned by the MPs

Uganda's Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya and several other ministers should be prosecuted over alleged corruption, a leaked MPs' report says.

The allegations against them centre on contracts awarded for the Commonwealth summit held in Uganda in 2007.

The 174-page draft report was given to Uganda's two main newspapers ahead of the president's meeting with parliament's public accounts committee.

At the 2007 summit, Commonwealth members pledged to fight corruption.

The vice-president is accused of being responsible for the fraudulent procurement of luxury cars, which were used to transport dozens of heads of state during the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).

At the time Mr Bukenya chaired the cabinet team in charge of preparations for the event.

President Museveni assured them that, provided the MPs did not drag political wrangling into the investigation, all implicated ministers would be punished
President Museveni's press secretary

The privately owned Daily Monitor paper quotes from the report: "The chairperson of the Chogm cabinet sub-committee [Bukenya] should be prosecuted for interference in the procurement process and causing financial loss to the tune of 9.4bn shillings ($4.4m; £3m) and be politically held responsible."

Mr Bukenya had earlier been called before the parliamentary committee investigating how the millions of dollars were spent on the meeting, but refused to attend.

He has previously said contracts were signed in consultation with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni - who has immunity from prosecution.

President Museveni held a four-and-a-half-hour late-night meeting with the parliamentarians on Thursday.

He urged them to offer the vice-president another chance to defend himself.

"President Museveni assured them that, provided the MPs did not drag political wrangling into the investigation, all implicated ministers would be punished," presidential press secretary Tamale Mirundi told the BBC.

The final report and recommendations were due to be published after the meeting, Uganda's state-run New Vision paper reports.

Election looming

The report also calls for Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa to be prosecuted for failing to declare that he had links to the firm which supplied the luxury cars.

He denied having shares in the company at the time.

Ugandans cheer the Queen's convoy as its travels from Entebbe to Kampala on November 21, 2007
Luxury cars were bought and roads revamped for the summit

Other ministers and government officials are accused over the way money was wasted.

One hotelier was given more than $1m (£650,000) to build 200 rooms just three days before the summit opened.

Money intended for road building was allegedly diverted to tarmac roads leading to the private properties of government officials.

BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says at the time the event was widely seen by ordinary Ugandans as a chance for those who had the right connections to print money.

Although the budget was around $80m, it is estimated that at least $150m were spent preparing for the summit.

Our correspondent says it is not clear what the result of this probe will be.

"I don't think much will be done," Sissy Kagaba, head of the non-governmental Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda told the BBC.

"Government has set a precedent of not acting upon recommendations of corruption investigations. But let the government break the precedent," she said.

Once the final report is published, it is up to parliament to decide whether to go ahead with the prosecutions.

"Our concern is that the ruling NRM [National Resistance Movement] party has the majority in parliament," committee member MP Ssebuliba Mutumba told the BBC.

"They could try to use this to stifle the matter, to save the face of their party, because the people involved are top NRM party members.

"With elections coming soon, I am not sure if there will be motivation to debate this."

General elections are due in the East African country in February 2011.

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