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By Isaac wandubile

Multibillionaire Sudhir Ruparelia is officially the Honorary of Consul of Nepal to Uganda after Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa accepted his credentials on Tuesday, and the tycoon proceeded to open a Nepalese Consulate office at Crane Chambers along Kampala Road.

Nepalese Ambassador to Egypt Jhabindra Aryal Rajdoot, who also oversees the Kampala Consulate, represented President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the opening of the office, also attended by Nepalese working in Uganda.

To crown the day, that will undoubtedly remain key in Uganda-Nepal relations, the businessman invited bigwigs from government, the Nepalese and Indian Community for a Consulate launch cocktail party at his Kabira Country Club.

Ministers Henry Oryem Okello (State for Foreign Affairs in charge International Affairs), Mwesigwa Rukutana (State for Labour), Godfrey Kiwanda (State for Tourism), former Health Minister Jim Muhwezi and wife Susan attended the cocktail. Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Chairman Wasswa Birigwa, tycoon Godfrey Kirumira, and motormouthed social commentator Frank Gashumba were also among the guests.

At about 7:30, Ruparelia and his wife Jyotsna ushered in the guest of honour, Kutesa, and his wife to the official celebration to mark the launch of the consulate. Applause welcomed the Kutesas, the Ruparelias, and Aryal, before traditional Nepalese scarves were flung on their shoulders. The Ugandan and Nepalese anthems were played, before a Children’s Choir entertained the guests.

Next came the speeches. Ruparelia, Aryal and Kutesa expressed optimism in Uganda-Nepal relations. The Ambassador was confident that the tycoon would help strengthen links between the two countries.

On his part, Ruparelia promised to ensure that both Nepal and Uganda benefit from the new relationship in the areas of trade, tourism and investment, among others.

When it was his turn to speak, Kutesa joked that he was not used to the Nepalese cloth which he said added a little weight and more warmth. He then cracked more ribs when he told guests that Sudhir had come to his Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) office to present his credentials dressed like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“So, I told him, ‘stay calm and be a consular,” said Kutesa, adding that he would not think of any person well suited for the role than Ruparelia.

“I think we all agree that Mr Sudhir doesn’t only have the interest to steer the Uganda-Nepal relations but also has the means.”

On Nepal’s potential, the minister noted that although the country was landlocked, small in size and population, the nation which was never colonized is known for her “greater heights.”

He further expressed his gladness and Kampala’s commitment to further strengthen ties with Kathmandu.

The speeches were followed by a toast to good relations and the raising of both countries’ flags, with Sudhir hoisting the Nepalese, and Kutesa the Ugandan. With the official launch done, it was now time for the country’s richest man to invite guests to another venue, this time at a poolside, for more drinks and eats.

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