TO: His Excellency Edward Sekandi
RE: Parliament Seats for Ugandans in the Diaspora
December 23, 2014
Dear H.E Vice President Edward Sekandi,
Thank you for meeting with the Ugandans Overseas Peoples Organisation. We are an organization representing the tens of thousands of Ugandans living abroad in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. We are a hardworking and patriotic group, and we want to contribute to the developments in our home country and have our issues heard. Ugandans living overseas encounter a myriad of issues that should be addressed by our leaders. But it is extremely difficult to get in touch with ministers—they usually travel abroad for brief periods of time, or they’re unwilling to meet with us. We need representatives in Parliament who understand the types of problems we face, and can serve as liaisons between you and us. We are requesting 50 seats in Parliament for Ugandans in the diaspora, a number that is less than a quarter of the current total of 383 seats.
Outlined below are some of the more common issues Ugandans overseas encounter, and the ways in which our own representatives in Parliament would assist us.
· Ugandans imprisoned abroad: In many cases, they never receive assistance from embassies and are left on their own. A representative from Parliament would be responsible for following up on cases, getting in touch with relatives, and finding ways to provide legal assistance.
· Prostitution: Young Ugandans are lured to the United States under false job promises and are then forced into prostitution. Our representative would ensure that individuals or companies offering jobs to our children are thoroughly researched and investigated, and held accountable.
· Ugandans who die abroad: There are instances where someone dies without relatives back home knowing and/or having a way for their bodies to be returned. The MP would facilitate getting in touch with those related to the deceased and help organize burial logistics.
· Investors: These are small-scale entrepreneurs eager to bring business to Uganda, for instance in the agriculture and technology sectors. The MP would work to connect these investors to vendors and business owners in Uganda. In addition, Ugandans living abroad who want to build businesses in Uganda would benefit from having a representative to link them to reputable vendors. Too often we have been scammed by dishonest practices because we’re living abroad and are unable to directly oversee our business.
The 50 Parliament seats would be divided as follows.
· United States and Canada: 20 seats, 13 of which should be women. Eight from the East Coast (including New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington, DC); five from the West Coast (such as Arizona, California, Colorado, and Washington state); three from the Midwest (such as Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan); two from the South (including Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas); and two from Canada.
· Europe: 10 seats, 7 held by women, including from England, France, Belgium, and Sweden.
· Asia: 15 seats, including from United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Turkey.
· Africa: 5 seats.
MPs would be registered members of the Ugandans Overseas Peoples Organisation and would not represent political parties. A Board consisting of ten members shall review applications for potential MPs, narrow down the list, and forward finalists to your office for selection. These representatives would be held accountable for fulfilling obligations and communicating with constituents. If we feel our representatives are not carrying out their duties, the Board will remove them and send a new list of names to the President to replace them. The representatives would sit in Parliament for three months at a time, then take one month to travel to their respective countries and meet with Ugandans constituents. This would give provide them an opportunity to update us on any developments, and for us to voice our issues. The month abroad would also build awareness about current events in Uganda, promote tourism, and create a gathering space for Ugandans in the diaspora.
Thank you for considering our request. We look forward to working with you in addressing the needs of Ugandans living abroad.
Florence Kiremerwa – President
Ugandans Overseas Peoples Organization
UGANDANS OVERSEAS PEOPLES ORGANISATION
P.O BOX 5267 KAMPALA, UGANDA