Uganda plans to reopen consulate in Goma, DRC

Goma and Kishasa on the map.

Goma and Kinshasa on the map.

Members of Parliament have backed plans by the government to reopen its consulate in Goma in Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The legislators on Public Accounts and Foreign Affairs Committees of Parliament say government should be granted permission to spend over 1.8 billion Shillings to reopen Goma consulate which has been closed for over 15 years.

Uganda closed its consulate in Goma in 2000 after President Laurent Kabila questioned its operation at the time when Goma was under rebel control at the height of civil conflict.

The Goma consulate had sparked a Diplomatic row between Uganda and President Laurent Kabila’s administration in Kinshasha. Kabila then claimed that Uganda recognized the rebels who were in charge of Goma then.

Ambassador James Mugume, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told MPs on the Public Accounts and Foreign Affairs committees that the ministry has been pushing for two additional consulates, Goma and Bunia but constrained by funds. Mugume contends that due to the geographical size of DRC, the Kinshasa embassy has not been able to fulfill its mandate in the ring countries the Ambassador is expected to oversee.”

He said “this was already in our plan, but we had said that the resource envelope would not allow opening up a consulate in Eastern DRC.

The resolution here is that we go for reopening a consulate, a well staffed consulate which will deal with trade, security, consular, and Diaspora matters.”

Uganda’s Embassy to Democratic Republic of Congo is based in Kinshasa. Ambassador James Kinobe says it takes over two and half hours by air for Ugandans in Goma to travel to Kinshasa seeking services.

Ambassador James Kinobe who also oversees Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and Central African Republic says with a liaison office in Eastern Congo, Uganda will boost its economic interests, given that DRC is one of the top destinations for the country’s exports.

Alice Alaso, Public Accounts Committee Chairperson says her committee will ensure that Foreign Affairs ministry gets additional 1.8 billion shillings in the 2015/2016 financial year budget for the consulate.