The Way Forward for Uganda

Fellow Ugandns,

I believe that all Ugandans are focused towards the 2011 elections, with much anticipation for eventual everlasting peace in our country. While many think that the change of government from the governing NRM/O to another party will bring peace to Uganda, others think that a mere change of the governing party will not bring peace.
As I contemplate the possibility of peace and stability, I am one of those who donot believe that a mere change of the governing party alone will ensure peace and stability.The entire populace is confused. Many have turned to the Church, Mosque and other places of worship as a refuge to the seemingly never-ending troubles of our Mother Land. I am told that even President Yoweri K. Museveni has become a Born – Again Christian.
By turning to God’s Congregation as a place of confort, I remembered what I saw in my childhood that turned the peoples’ mentality to a positive one, for sometime.
About June, 1964 a less known organisation known as The Jehovah’ Witnesses had announced that on that particular day the World would end. In our township of Kilembe the Churches, the Mosque and other places of worship were full beyond capacity. The World was supposed to end at 14.00 Hrs. We were told that a strong wind would blow everything off the face of the earth, except the ”saved ones” and those who confessed their sins before the time of the end. Every slight wind passing by would bring tremendous fear. 14.00 Hrs came and passed. So were the subsequent hours. Shortly before midnight, my mother told us, the children to go to bed, saying that God must have changed His mind. The whole area was quiet, except the prayers that could be heard faintly from time to time. After that day, the entire community became so harmonious. Well, the harmony was short lived.Two years later, 1966 the news came that the Prime Minister of Uganda, Apollo Milton Obote had ordered the army to attack the Palace of the Kabaka of Buganda, who at the time was the President of Uganda. Since that time Uganda has experienced violence with short intervals, as the governments changed.
After many years of violence in our country, the Church, the Mosque and other places of worship have become the refuge to the millions of people, many of whom wish that the Creator would soon intervene. No wonder, the Pastors, Moalim, Sheiks and Gospel musicians are busy consoling the populace.
Let us refrain from acts of intimidation and thoughtless threats. Let us encourage dialogue among the politicians and political parties for the good of our country. The fact is that the entire country is suffering, despite the argument that some areas have suffered and continue to suffer more than others. Even those who seem happy are infact scared for their lives. Peace is lacking in the entire populace and the violence exhibited in the name of ”National Security”, is in reality an act of fear for change, in self defence.
I hear in some quarters that President Museveni has imposed himself on the people and that he wants to rule for life. In other quarters I hear that President Museveni is tired of the presidency and that he is forced into it to protect those who may face the Law for atrocities committed before and during the NRM/O administration, should he step down.
With all these arguments mentioned above, I ask the question; Will the mere change of government, from NRM/O to another party bring peace? Is there any party really capable of defeating the NRM/O in the forthcoming elections? The NRM/O continues to prove that they are invincible, come the 2011 elections. I note lack of unity in all opposition parties. It seems that the opposition is trying to form a ”Unity of Convenience”, simply to defeat the ruling party in the forthcoming elections. Have we all forgotten what happened when we united for convenience, simply to drive Idi amin and his regime out of power? The violence we have experienced since the fall of Amin, is a result of that ”Unity of Convenience”.
The best way out of our despondency I believe, is that the fund which should be used to administer the 2011 elections, be used instead to establish the Trurh and Reconciliation Commission. After the establishment of the T.R.Commission and its deliberations, Uganda will have a fresh beginning filled with hope for prosperity and harmony, for the good of our Nation. Unless we find a way to put the past behind us, Uganda will never be peaceful.
BJ. Rubin.


2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. anthony Rwaga,

    Oh My God.NRM and Museveni are scumbags who dont deserve to lead Uganda.Poor boy
    Compiled and written by “Anthony Rwaga”
    This is one of the many articles and stories that sometimes go unattended or unreported too due to corruption and self-censorship journalists practice in Uganda today. Museveni must be held accountable for such atrocities being practiced today. A few years back, a list of NRM bigwigs with their proposed financial contributions to the party was leaked to the press. Although the authenticity of the scheme was neither confirmed nor convincingly dismissed, there was a hint that some of these fellows in strategic corruption-infested positions are expected to cough hundreds of millions of shillings into the party’s coffers.
    It would be foolhardy not to bring the offerings, even if it is a shameless way of making all tax-payers and several donor countries and agencies pay for NRM party activities.
    As we approach the 2011 general election, when you hear that a head-bending Shs20 billion will go into just the NRM primaries, with another 60 to 100 billion to be spent by the party
    To move guns, messages and food from A to B safely, you needed the instincts of a smuggler. To operate under various false names and smoothly clear the military roadblocks of these days, or to convince peasants that you were fighting for their good and for the advancement of democracy, you had to perform like a natural liar. To raid and seize cash from well guarded institutions, you needed the steel of a bandit’s heart. Here is a story of on one of the innocent lives used by the NRM to scheme their thugery way out or to oppress people around. As I have always been explaining in all my articles, most of these stories and news are very sensitive that the government does not want to air out cause it sheds them pieng in their pants when the truth is aired out
    Journalists in Uganda are the most corrupt media group that I have seen and I have lost trust in all of them Katerega himself inclusive. These are people that will always want you to pay them something before an article is published and I say this because it has ever happened to me when I use to send in articles through them. In most cases it is never published cause they want you to bribe them out or they are paid off by the government not to air out any stories to protect the government

    So when they come in our midist and try to be saints it beats my understanding. First of all if you have an article that talks about the evil dictatorship government of Museveni, They will never publish it or they will twist the whole story and make it instead praising him.

    But they can afford to kick and terrorise the innoncent beggers on the streets.This one they will run and publish. Issues that are so criticle are never taken note of that is if it says anything about the dictator Museveni
    These journalists are always making or abusing their knowledge in journalism by taking or fighting for money or bribes from museveni. Museveni has once again came out as the king in uganda. He gives when he wants and takes when he wants. Did Katerega of UAH also fight for money or museveni’s bribes. Journalists are useless just like the opposition as most of these parties have been bribed.
    Mayhem and genocide continues: In Uganda, a U.S.-backed dictator, Yoweri Museveni, has confined a whole ethnic group, nearly 2 million Acholis, in squalid concentration camps where men, women and children die of hunger, thirst and diseases, some spread by targeted-rapes by known HIV-positive soldiers, because these Acholis have not supported him in the last few elections, nor have they submitted to his tyranny.
    At the same time, they have been brutalized by the tyranny of a rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army.
    Estimates of civilians that have died in Museveni’s death camps in the last 20 years range from 500,000 to more than one million. Ironically, only an African leader can today preside over such genocide and get away with it; fulfilling the destiny some Europeans still want for Africans.
    I am glad that there is a bill on the table being looked at regarding the situation in Northern Uganda to be signed by Obama. It may allow one to see the hypocrisy involved in this so called Bill. The Bill is just like a beautiful woman or handsome man who is infected with gonorrhea. You will never know until a few days later when you need to see a doctor.
    This Bill is coated with the “reconstruction” of Northern Uganda, but in reality it is a “War and death Bill.” This war has been going on for 23-plus years and the Uganda Government has never been able to win it. They are busy eating the war benefits and building mansions in Kampala and Mbarara.
    I still believe that Obama should not sign this Bill because of the $40 million for war. War kills and who will this bill benefit after millions in the battle field have been killed? A friend advised that we need to lobby Obama at the White House not to change his mind from not signing this war Bill.
    If Uganda government had not gone back to war in December, I believe that Kony would have agreed to sign with modifications to the Final Peace Agreement that was negotiated. There is room for negotiations and peace but not war. Further amendments are needed in this FPA and war must not be part of the equations.
    Finally, I hope that you listened to Obama’s speech in Ghana last week and picked up the direction that he is heading to.

    Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see. I had waited for him for four hours. Earlier, he had refused to meet me. Issa Wazemba does not exude the confidence and energy of a 25-year-old man.
    Issa Wazemba at the offices of The Independent. independent/jimmy siya
    When we met, his eyes constantly darted around suspiciously as he limped on his crutch towards the building I was in. He looked at me and whispered a few words in his native language, Lumasaba, to our middleman. He did not know I understood what he was saying.
    His words were: “Are you sure he is the one? This could be a trick.”
    Through a translator, Wazemba narrated his horrific ordeal at the hands of security personnel from the Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce (JATT) and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
    It all begun on November 18, 2007, a few days before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala. I was coming to Mbale from Kampala by bus where I had gone to buy second hand cloths to sell as usual.
    We had just crossed the Nile bridge at Nalufenya as you enter Jinja town at about 6 pm when the bus was stopped at a roadblock. Army officers entered the bus and ordered everybody out.
    They searched the inside of the bus and told us to go back in. As I tried to re-enter, I was stopped and pulled aside forcefully. I was pushed into a vehicle and was immediately blindfolded. All this happened so fast I was totally engulfed in fear. I did not understand what was happening.
    Issa said he was transferred to another vehicle and driven a short distance to Nalufenya police station.
    They pulled me out of the vehicle and removed the blindfold. I could clearly see we were behind a building which I later discovered was a police station. There were four officers around me. They asked me if I had luggage in the bus. I told them I did; I had a bale of second hand clothes. They slapped and kicked me until I fell to the ground.
    They kept asking: “where are our things?” I was ordered to get up and they took me back to the bus. I identified my luggage. It was put at the back of a Toyota double-cabin truck. I sat between two officers and they drove towards the direction of Kampala. They drove so fast within no time we were at Kitante barracks. All through, the officers said nothing.
    At Kitante, Issa says he was taken to a water-logged room. He was ordered to sit in the water. At around 7.30 p.m. he was picked from the room and taken to an office where he was interrogated.
    “Two officers brought guns and put them on the table. Another officer, who I later learnt is called Lt. John Mwesigwa entered the room and asked me about ‘boxes.’ I didn’t know what boxes he was talking about.
    Another officer walked into the room with a container full of iron rods and placed them next to the wall. Lt. Mwesigwa told me if I did not tell him where the ‘boxes’ were, he would use the rods on me until I came clean. I pleaded with him not to harm me. I knew nothing about ‘boxes’. I sell clothes in Mbale. I only come to Kampala to buy them and they had them.
    Mwesigwa and the other four officers began to undress me. They got the metal rods and hit my legs. I cried and begged them to stop. They only laughed. They interrogated and tortured me for close to four hours until I lost consciousness.
    Later that night, Issa regained consciousness in another place he later learnt was Summit View in Kololo, a posh Kampala suburb. He had been locked up in a small room with an Asian and five Africans.
    The next day he was picked and taken back to Kitante. He was interrogated and beaten after which he was locked up in a room till dusk. He was taken back to Summit View and locked up in the same room.
    “I was hungry but could not eat. I was thirsty. I saw a bucket with water in it. I took a big and quick swig at it. It was urine. I vomited so much I thought my insides would come out.”
    On the third day, Issa says he was taken back to Kintante. He was locked in the water-logged room again. Later he was taken to another room where he was interrogated and beaten. At this point he could not walk any more. He was carried back to the water-logged room and was offered food for the first time.
    They hit all my joints with metals. They told me I was hiding bombs and bullets. They wanted them from me. They called me a different name which they claimed was my real name. I tried to explain to them that I was Issa Wazemba. They had my identification papers, they could check with my family and my relatives. They did not listen. They brought a gadget which they used to administer electric shock on me around my private parts. I thought I would never live beyond that day but somehow they stopped. They took me to the room with water. I sat in the water. I wanted to drink some of it but could not move my hands. I fell into the water and took a few gulps before I was lifted out of it by a soldier. He kicked me in the chest and told me not to drink that water. I was overwhelmed by pain both from the wounds and from inside of me. I cried a lot that day.
    When it got dark, Issa says he was taken back to the interrogation room where he was again beaten till he lost consciousness. When he got back to his senses, he was in a different room with men of Somali origin.
    He later discovered it was in Kisaasi Ntinda, another Kampala suburb. On the fourth day, he was carried into a double-cabin pick-up and driven to Kololo where he was photographed. He was carried out of the building and into a small vehicle. He was locked in it for several hours.
    By the time they came for him, Issa had fainted. When he regained consciousness, he was questioned once again on the ‘bombs and bullets’ they said he was hiding. His torturers smeared pepper on his face and beat him. He lost consciousness again. He was later washed and given food which he says he could not eat. He was taken back to Kisaasi.
    On the fifth day a doctor called Lt. Wilson Rutaremwa was brought to him. The doctor examined him and gave him medication. After sometime, the medication stopped. He was not tortured for about a month. The doctor observed that his condition was not getting better; his wounds continued to rot and had a foul smell. He transferred him to Mbuya Military hospital. He was still being guarded by soldiers.
    “Life was better at Mbuya. The nurses helped me so much. In the night, when the guards were not there, they gave blood in form of drips. In total I was given three pints of blood. A European doctor also cared for me. One morning he came with bad news. He told me that if I was to live, both my legs were to be amputated. I cried so much. I felt hopeless.”
    On the day of amputation; another doctor recommended that only one of his legs, the left one, be amputated since the other could heal over time. After the operation, Issa was moved to Bombo military barracks where he was admitted in a private room.
    “I woke up in a private room. My left leg was cut off below the knee joint. I felt no pain at that time. I was clean. The nurses were good to me. I knew one of them. I don’t remember her name but we both used to buy second hand clothes from the same dealer. Lt. Mwesigwa and S/Sgt Katenesi, my former torturers, would visit me from time to time.”
    Issa was moved from Bombo back to Kisaasi Ntinda.
    “In June 2008, I was moved to CMI headquarters where I was kept in the house of Warrant Officer Opedun. The house was next to the garage of the house of Lt. Okello. Here, I was given a mattress, a room and a bed. I was asked to order all I wanted to eat and drink. Another officer, Lt. Joash Mushabe would visit me often.
    Issa recalls his short stay at CMI headquarters.
    “Dr. Rutaremwa would visit me to check on my health and recommend medication. My condition would fluctuate. Sometimes I was ok; some times I was in pain. Lt. Mushabe would give me money. I remember he gave me Shs 50,000 and Shs 20, 000. Other officers would visit to threaten me not to speak to anyone about what happened to me. They told me if I told the media I was tortured, I would be killed. I was to say, I got an accident while in Kampala and was in hospital. At times, mostly in the nights, when the officers where drunk, they would come to my room and would slap me and squeeze my privates. ”
    In August 2008, Issa asked if he could go back to his family. He says, he was granted permission but was told never to speak of his experience.
    “On August 9, 2008 Lt. John (also called Lt. Elias) drove me to Nakasero market. He gave me Shs 200,000 in cash, a mobile phone with a Celtel (Zain) line and small bag with clothes. I never got my luggage back. He told me to call him when I reached. He also said I should go back to CMI in three months time to get more money. I have never gone back. As for the phone, I used it when I reached Mbale to call him (Lt. Elias) I told him I reached safely. I switched it off and have never used it again.”
    In Mbale, Issa’s family could not live in the town. They had no idea what had happened to Issa. For all they knew, he could have died. They were forced to move back to his ancestral home in rural Mbale where life was less demanding financially.
    Issa recalls the first time he saw his family after a whole year.
    “I went to the village and found my wife and children. They had lost a lot of weight and were looking horrible. Clearly they had suffered so much. They were also shocked to see me without my left leg. My people cried when they saw me. I cried too. I told them what had happened to me. They were devastated. Worse still, I told my wife I couldn’t have an erection any more. She said nothing, nothing. She has said nothing up to today. We now live in a friend’s home. He gave my family and me a small room. We sleep there the four of us. We beg for food and every day the situation is tense.”
    Issa says his health has also deteriorated.
    “My body behaves like it is not mine. It pains all over especially in the morning. The remaining bit of my left leg is rotting and needs to be cut off. My teeth are shaky, I am dizzy most of the time and my eyes fail me from time to time. My first born daughter is not in school. I don’t know how long my friend will keep me at his home. CMI said they would compensate me but I have had nothing from my lawyers. For the sake of my family’s future, I need help.”

  2. Anthony Rwaga,

    Otunnu Embodies Uganda’s Hopes

    By Anthony Rwaga

    August 7th 2009

    Otunnu, global peace-maker and confidante of world leaders; will he take his skills to his Ugandan homeland?

    [Africa Update]

    Various Ugandan newspapers have carried articles about the in-fighting in the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), a leading opposition party.

    The articles came after reports surfaced of a “consultation and briefing” between certain UPC big-wigs and Olara Otunnu, a former Uganda foreign affairs minister and Under Secretary General of the United Nations, in Nairobi, with a view to invite Otunnu back to Uganda to contest for the presidency in 2011 under the UPC banner.

    News articles discussed certain machinations within the UPC itself regarding the internal “coup” whence those so-called big-wigs were axed. It was also alleged that the out-going party leader, Mama Maria Kalule Obote, party founder Milton Obote’s widow, was planning to have her son, James Akena Obote, succeed her as the next UPC party leader.

    I looked back at my experiences on the periphery of the developments in this new dawn of Ugandan politics to weigh in with my own opinion.

    Although I am thousands of miles away from Uganda and the main players in this affair, I feel like I have travelled with them and I can feel their travails. I should also disclose that I consulted with both Akena and Otunnu, with respect to this essay.

    Otunnu’s prospective candidature is good for the UPC as well as for all parties and the country at large.

    Why do I say this? I don’t purport to be a politician; neither do I even pretend to understand politics, nor indeed politicians. Yet, I can tell a good thing when I see one.

    In my four decades, I have seen as many regimes in Uganda as King Henry VIII saw wives.I’ve also actually witnessed some of the change-overs as well; from Idi Amin’s 1971 coup d’état; the 1980 Uganda National Liberation Front putsch that removed Godfrey Binaisa; the 1985 military ouster of Obote’s regime by Tito Okello and Bazilio Okello; and the last, but perhaps most vicious, the 1986 fight for Kampala by Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA).

    I have seen good men come and go; I’ve seen good regimes come and go and indeed amongst them, I have seen men of vapid and insipient caliber. In their midst too, we have had men of contemptible character.

    Around 1986, a police constable at Kampala Central Police Station, unsure whether to lament the fall of the Obote regime or the turbid attitude of the NRA junta confessed to me de facto: “My son, revolution is a very funny thing; good men become bad and bad men become good.”

    Uganda Is Still A Blessed Country
    God has blessed Uganda with its lovely nature and kind people. Every true Ugandan is so happy and friendly that it is rare to find a hostile reception.

    More importantly, take any Ugandan out of the rat-race that is Kampala City Centre and you will find that Ugandans are, on the whole, the jolliest, most languid but at the same time, most fervent of peoples.

    Politics has destroyed a beautiful country and it is unfair of me to remind Ugandans of the name bequeathed them by Sir Winston Churchill – “The Pearl of Africa.” It is also sad to note that little does it behove that title, 60 odd years on.

    Growing up in Gulu, and then Kampala, and going to school in Kampala and Nabumali, Mbale, I made friends from allover the country. Even people I had childhood fisticuffs with are today great friends. My friends hail from every corner of the country. They are: Acoli, Langi, Baganda, Rwandese, Madi, Kakwas, Basoga, Banyankole, Bakiga, Batoro, Lugbaras, Banyoro, Bagisu, Itesots and others. My friends include Christians and Muslims.

    Jimmy Akena Obote
    I met Jimmy Akena Obote when we were in our teens. Jimmy and his brothers were to me, very close friends in every form and sense of the word but also in very different ways. We went all out to have fun as young boys, and then as men. Even today, we meet whenever the opportunity avails itself and we reminisce; we trade e-mail messages frequently.

    One time, around 1984, Jimmy and I were riding our Gilera Motocross bikes –we owned a pair of similar motorcycles– across Kampala when we happened upon a roadblock and the soldiers at the roadblock decided to mock the then President’s son. I had to speak out for him as he was too humble to even think of exerting power. In Nairobi, I was once attacked by a bottle-wielding man, also with a knife; Jimmy and his brothers stood up for me then.

    As young intelligent and opinionated young men, we had our debates and moments of disagreements. Suffice to say, we are still here today as best of friends.

    The Presidents I Have Met
    Very rarely do we allow ourselves the luxuries of the good memories.

    I met the Late Tanzanian President Julius K. Nyerere barely a fortnight before he passed away in a London hospital.

    Nyerere was not too well but had the strength of memory to remind me that he recalled every little experience he had had at Makerere University in Uganda, including with my late father J. P. Abe. He also recalled Kenyan political luminaries such as Argwings Kodhek, Oginga Odinga and Ombaki. He spoke of their time at Makerere in the late 1930s and early 1940s; and the nicknames they called each other.

    Another former president of brilliant intellect is Godfrey Binaisa QC. As an ambitious young boy, I struck a friendship with him and I refer to him as my Godfather. We struck up a correspondence, in the 1980s and 1990s, borne from his many years as a close family friend to my late father, Abe and my late uncle Daudi Ocieng. Binaisa was living and practicing law in New York. He encouraged me to study law and gave me helpful guidance of exceptional quality that I cherish dearly today.

    I had the heavenly blessings of experiencing the wisdom of Apollo Milton Obote. I met this most erudite of men, on more than one occasion and at all times, he never ceased to impress upon me the profound intellect and good humor that he possessed.

    My first meeting with Obote was at his residence at Impala Avenue, in Kampala, when I was with his sons. He always greeted everyone jovially and had a moment’s chat with all – irrespective of age and status. The encounters increased as we spent more and more time in his house and he happened to be at home.

    It never felt like it was a Presidential Residence – it felt like home from home. Another time when I came upon Obote was when I was in the company of Olara Otunnu who was on an official trip back from the United Nations, where he was then Uganda’s Permanent Representative. We bumped into Obote in the elevator of a Kampala hotel as he was getting in. He expressed his salutations to Otunnu and had a few words for me, and inquiring after my parents.

    Olara Otunnu
    I have known Otunnu, now banded as a possible candidate for UPC leadership, and for the country’s presidency, for years.

    Otunnu is a very close family friend whose success has not just had a profound impression on my life but I am sure, on the lives of millions of people around the globe.

    He has been: a very successful scholar, highly respected around global academic circles; and he is an equally successful diplomat who could have assailed the heights of international echelons by becoming the first African UN Secretary General had his candidature not been undermined by his own country – Uganda.

    My assessment of the man may be biased, having known him all my life. Yet, it’s corroborated by international bodies and organizations that have since awarded him honors, recognizing his global achievements in international affairs. He also gained pre-eminence addressing matters related to peace and the use of child soldiers in conflicts. In 2005 he was recipient of the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize; other recipients include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Muhammad Yunus, President Xanana Gusmão, Sir William Deane AC KBE, Mary Robinson, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, and Arundhati Roy.

    Among our numerous conversations, one particular experience has left an indelible mark on my life. It was shortly after the 1986 coup that deposed the government of General Tito Okello where Otunnu was the Minister for Foreign Affairs. We spent nearly three months together in Nairobi; many evenings I listened as he deciphered the events that lead to the fall of that government and his vision for his professional career and future for Uganda.

    Otunnu shared his ideas evolving around three short to medium term plans. He did achieve them within a short space of time. He also shared a longer term vision that he possessed and he is yet to achieve. To me, these showed the mettle of the man that he is.

    I have frequently sought his counsel and he’s always had time for me. His advice has been rational, measured and objective. He never speaks without authority; nor does he express opinion based purely on partial assessments.

    Not a tough choice
    Today Ugandans are faced with a choice. A choice of whom they wish to help propel the country into the globalized arena; the new era of bringing Uganda, and indeed Africa, into the 21st Century.

    Every new leader in Africa is always regarded with suspicion in the Western world. The Economist magazine of April 18th-20th, 2009, carried a major article entitled: “Africa’s next Big Man – Trusting Jacob Zuma.”

    It was a tepid welcome for the new South African leader, reserving the “trust” until his post-presidential era. Is it not the case that a man ought to be judged by his good deeds and not for the faults that he has not yet committed?

    Who do we see as prospective candidates for government and ultimately for leadership? We are all born to be ambitious in our aspirations and that is only natural. Come 2011, we shall have more candidates than can fit in the Presidential Lear Jet. Of the current aspirants, bar the incumbent, I have met Dr. Kizza Besigye, who has had two cracks of the whip without success.

    My neighbor and very close family friend, Bidandi Ssaali, is a gentleman of unrivalled qualities but I am afraid to say he has reached the watershed of active politics. Make no mistakes; if I needed political counsel in Uganda today, that is the one man that I would turn to and he has always given me his time unconditionally.

    What of our young fire-brand Nobert Mao? My maternal uncle, Gulu District Chairman Mao is, in today’s Uganda, in terms of his skills comparable to a young Tom Mboya, the peerless Kenyan politician who was sadly murdered in his prime. Mao is intelligent, witty and sharp but many too oftentimes, he has left one wondering whether one has seen all he has expected to see of the man.

    Whenever Mao has had to make crucial decisions, the recent rebel allegations saga being one of them, he seems to have been armed –no pun intended– with the right hand but seems to have played the wrong card. I believe that there is still a lot that he leaves to be desired and that does not tick all the boxes by any standards.

    So then, who is best for Uganda?

    Mind you, it’s not a UPC issue; it’s a Ugandan, an African, and global issue. The country needs someone with international experience; someone who is highly respected and known around the world. We need someone who has had the benefit of years to develop an understanding of the mechanics of geo-politics.

    Since this issue arose, there has been speculation and discussion about Olara Otunnu’s candidature and his record. If everyone is judged by their previous employer then the government of Uganda had better vacate office today.

    Who has not worked with the governments of Tito Okello, Milton Obote or Idi Amin? Undeniably, this much is clear: Otunnu’s record is that of a highly respected diplomat, scholar and peace campaigner. His tireless work has garnered several awards around the globe.

    Jimmy Akena is my friend; he is a very intelligent young man. We used to drop him in school from our outings and the fellow passed his examinations with Distinctions.

    When I was around nine years old, in Gulu, I read The Complete Works of Shakespeare. In one of Shakespeare’s plays, a man agrees to take the place of his best friend in prison so his friend could go and either pay a debt or pursue his amour, as I recall. I would do that for my friend Akena; he is like a brother and “blood is thicker than water.”

    Given a few more years, Akena will make a very good leader of the party. His international horizon and political skills will continue to grow. Youth is on his side. He can learn from Otunnu; just as Otunnu learned from Akena’s father, Obote. Olara Otunnu is the man that Uganda, Africa, the United States, and Europe, has been waiting for.

    With a man like Otunnu at the helm of Ugandan politics, we will begin to see visions of the dream that President Obama expounded in his ground-breaking speech in Accra, Ghana. African leadership will reclaim some respect; last seen with Nelson Mandela.

    I was there on the steps of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2009 when President Barack Obama was inaugurated. I and millions others braved that minus 5 degree chill for over six hours.

    I have never held such enthusiasm for a leader before and I doubt I ever will again. Yet there is something in the air about Otunnu’s candidature and I have an inkling that if Ugandans elect him, Africa would have turned a sharp corner towards what has been echoed in the words of President Obama to the Ghanaian Parliament:

    Now, make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.

    Now, America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation. The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. But what America will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and responsible institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance – on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting and automating services- strengthening hotlines, protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.

    And we provide this support. I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights reports.”

    Otunnu will bring back hope, good governance and democracy to Uganda.

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