* Uganda to start oil production in 2012
* Museveni has named new PM linked to bribe claim
By Barry Malone
KAMPALA, May 28 Ugandan President Yoweri
Museveni announced a new cabinet, making what analysts said were
surprise choices for the finance and energy portfolios ahead of
expected oil production next year.
Museveni, in power for 25 years and fresh from an
overwhelming but disputed election victory in February, revealed
a mixture of new and experienced faces in a cabinet list sent to
Maria Kiwanuka, a well-known entrepreneur who owns a radio
station and has never been a minister or member of parliament,
was named finance minister, while a former head of the state-run
electricity utility, Irene Muloni, was given responsibility for
the energy and mineral resources ministry.
Uganda discovered commercial quantities of hydrocarbons in
the Lake Albert rift basin along its western border with the
Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.
Exploration firms estimate reserves of up to 2.5 billion
barrels, though the government says there could be more.
Political analyst Nicholas Ssengoba told Reuters that both
appointments were wise decisions but said the effectiveness of
the ministers would depend on how much freedom they were were
given to make their own decisions.
"Kiwanuka comes with no baggage. But she is a clean swimmer
jumping into a dirty pool because the whole financial system in
Uganda has problems - nepotism, bribery, corruption," he said.
Foreign oil companies, potential investors and donor
countries regularly monitor Uganda's corruption levels and lobby
the government behind the scenes to crack down on graft.
Museveni earlier in the week appointed Amama Mbabazi as
prime minister, a move that surprised analysts because Mbabazi
had been named in leaked U.S. cables as having taken bribes from
Italian oil firm Eni (ENI.MI).
Mbabazi was one of two ministers the U.S. ambassador to
Uganda, Jerry P. Lanier, urged Museveni's government to impose
travel bans on over corruption, according to cables posted on
WikiLeaks last year. [ID:nLDE6B911I]
Both ministers, and Eni, denied the accusations.
Several key ministers held onto their jobs in the cabinet
reshuffle, including foreign minister Sam Kuteesa.
A decision to raise the number of ministerial positions to
76 from 70 has drawn derision from many Ugandan political
commentators who say the cabinet is bloated and expensive.
Museveni has faced a series of anti-government protests in
recent weeks, triggered by high fuel and food prices. The
demonstrations have been crushed by security forces, drawing
Initially hailed by the West as part of a new generation of
more democratic African statesmen, Museveni has come under
increasing criticism for failing to root out high-level
corruption and governing in an increasingly autocratic way.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)