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Uganda deports third foreign telecom employee

Kampala, Uganda | AFP | Ugandan police on Thursday announced the expulsion of another foreigner working for telecom giant MTN, following the deportation earlier this week of two of the company’s expatriate staff.

MTN Uganda’s general manager for mobile money Elsa Mussolini, an Italian citizen, was forced out of the country on Wednesday, police spokesman Fred Enanga told AFP.

“A decision was taken that Elsa Mussolini be deported and she left the country,” he said.

“She was questioned on incitement to violence while she worked at MTN, which is a serious matter,” he added without giving further details.

In a message to her staff published in local media and confirmed by MTN, Mussolini said she was deported following accusations that she gave opposition figure Bobi Wine money during his campaign last year against a proposed social media tax.

Mussolini is the third expatriate employee of the South Africa-based corporation to be thrown out of Uganda this week.

She follows the expulsion on Tuesday of marketing chief Olivier Prentout, a French national, and Annie Bilenge-Tabura, a Rwandan who was head of sales and distribution.

Ugandan authorities accused both of using their positions to “compromise national security”, without giving further details.

Separately, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Twitter he had met MTN’s chief executive Rob Shuter on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

The pair discussed “an array of issues”, Museveni wrote, without mentioning the deportations of staff.

MTN has complained in recent months of ill-treatment by Ugandan authorities.

Last July, MTN said armed men claiming to be from Uganda’s Internal Security Organisation “kidnapped” two of its contractors and forced them to open up the company’s main data centre, where they made an unsuccessful attempt to access servers.

MTN Uganda said at the time that it took the “criminal incident” seriously and had reported it to the authorities, while adding it didn’t believe it was under investigation.

The telecom firm, one of Africa’s largest, has run into legal trouble elsewhere.

Last month it paid Nigeria a $53-million (46.7-million euro) penalty following allegations the company illegally repatriated more than $8 billion to South Africa.

The deportation of a Rwandan staffer from Uganda has raised speculation that a feud between the two neighbours may have played a role.

Uganda has occasionally arrested suspected spies for Rwanda, while Rwanda has accused its northern neighbour together with Burundi of supporting rebels opposed to President Paul Kagame.


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