Uganda and Korea may have decided to put the diplomatic spat that came from the emotion-filled aftermath of Gen. Aronda Nyakairima’s untimely death a fortnight ago, behind them.
One would make the above conclusion judging by the warm and well-attended events held this week to commemorate Korea’s National Foundation Day at the residence of the South Korean Ambassador Park Jong-Dae.
Both Ambassador Park and the Guest of Honour and Foreign Affairs Acting Minister Henry Okello Oryem expressed willingness to pursue stronger mutual bilateral interests despite the diplomatic glitch.
The South Korean Ambassador was forced to write to the government of Uganda demanding for the withdrawal of comments by President Yoweri Museveni indicating that South Korean officials had denied Gen. Aronda access to emergency medical help while he was in Seoul, because he didn’t have medical insurance cover. It emerged later however that Gen. Aronda didn’t try to ask for medical help, as had been alleged by the head of state.
Sources from the Embassy say that although they are yet to receive a written ‘apology’, they are nonetheless satisfied by the verbal comments that came from Minister Oryem who expressed regret at the circumstances that surrounded Gen, Aronda’s demise.
The presence of the Minister himself and the Permanent Secretary Ambassador James Mugume, among such high-ranking government officials including the Head of Public Service John Mitala, the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Charles Angina, may be considered as a form of rapprochement on Ugandan part.
Apart from the launch of its Military Attaché office in Kampala, South Korea announced that Uganda continues to benefit from Korea’s international development assistance.
Ambassador Park announced that Uganda will be among the only 5 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that will benefit from a US$200m package meant to support the implementation of the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
Ambassador Park was eager to emphasize that his country’s bilateral ties with Uganda have matured pretty rapidly over the past three years since S. Korea re-established bilateral ties. The Asian country is one of the most prominent donors these days with assistance spanning several sectors such as Education, ICT, Agriculture, Transport, and community development.
The Korean envoy expressed happiness that Ugandans are working hard to learn from his country’s economic miracle by signing up to participate in the Saemaul Undong (New Villages) movement.