Uganda has begun lobbying various governments at the United Nations ahead of its expected role as Africa's representative on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) the world's most powerful institution.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Yoweri Museveni, who has been attending the United Nations General Assembly, is heading a lobbying effort in New York, meant to secure allies for Uganda's two year stint on the UNSC.
"The President is helping mobilise support," said Ambassador James Mugume, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said Uganda was in a unique position to represent African countries on the Security Council, especially on issues of peace keeping and regional security, because it was also on the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
"Our critics will not want to hear this but being chosen to be on the UNSC is recognition that a country has a successful foreign policy and we have played a positive role in international security," Mr Mugume said. He said Uganda intends to be "an honest broker" on the UNSC.
Mr Museveni is travelling with a number of members of Parliament as well as Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and his deputy Henry Okello Oryem.
Its election to the UNSC is expected to be formalised within the next the weeks. President Museveni met American President George Bush and attended additional meetings with US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer, sources there said.
The opportunity to be on the UNSC last came 30 years ago when former UN Undersecretary for Children's Affairs, Dr Olara Otunnu, headed Uganda's mission in New York as Permanent Representative.
Mr Otunnu, the only Ugandan diplomat, who had a chance to become the Secretary General of the United Nations, fell out with the government which opposed his bid for the top seat.
Once it assumes its seat on January 1, 2009, Uganda will be required to participate in the various committees of the UNSC, a task for which it needs more staff and talent.
According to Ambassador Mugume, the ministry of Foreign affairs will seek a supplementary budget to put more officers in New York and at its headquarters for the two years it is on the UNSC.
However, sources within MoFA say Uganda is underprepared and would require more than the six new staffers the ministry has mentioned in relation to its UNSC obligations.
"Aside from the supplementary budget, there is no strategy on how to achieve Uganda's objectives," said one senior diplomat, on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The diplomat said out-going chair of the Africa seat, South Africa expanded its 15-man delegation in New York to 35 when it was chair.
The current representatives have long been a centre of controversy clashing with Ugandans in America but also facing quiet protestations from other countries, including the host country America, China, Britain and South Africa.
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