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China: We won’t take over Ugandan airport over loan default

Chinese authorities have said they are not interested in taking over Uganda's sole international airport if country defaults on loan.

Chinese authorities have said they are not interested in taking over Uganda’s sole international airport if country defaults on loan.

According to reports, Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets were attached and agreed to be taken over by Chinese lenders upon arbitration of a $200 million loan.

President Yoweri Museveni was said to have sent a delegation to Beijing, capital of China, hoping to renegotiate the toxic clauses but the visit was unsuccessful as China authorities reportedly refused to allow any alteration in the original terms of the deal.

Last week, Uganda’s Finance Minister Matia Kasaija apologised to parliament for the “mishandling of the $207 million loan” from the China Exim Bank to expand Entebbe International Airport.

“I apologise that we shouldn’t have accepted some of the clauses,” Kasaija told members of the committee in response to questions asked by the legislators.

But responding to reports on the possible takeover of the airport, the Chinese embassy in Uganda said, “The malicious allegation that ‘Uganda surrenders key assets for China cash’ has no factual basis and is ill-intended only to distort the good relations that China enjoys with developing countries including Uganda.

“Not a single project in Africa has ever been confiscated by China because of failing to pay Chinese loans.

“All loan agreements, including that of the Entebbe Airport Expansion and Upgrading Project, are voluntarily signed by both parties through dialogue and negotiation on equal footing without any hidden terms or political conditions attached.

“Terms of the loan agreement for Entebbe Airport Expansion and Upgrading Project are in full compliance with the prevailing conventions and practices in the international financial market. China firmly supports and is willing to continue our efforts to improve Africa’s capacity for home driven development.”

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