UGANDA: RETIREMENT LAW DOES NOT GIVE MUSEVENI INCENTIVE TO CEED POWER PEACEFULLY

Below: Commander-in-Chief of the UPDF, General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

yoweri-president-de-louganda

COMMENTARY

“civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person after ceasing to be President; in respect for anything done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity before or during the term of office of that person, and any period of limitation in respect of such proceedings shall not be taken to run during the period while that person was President”

A person is “disqualified if they have committed a crime during their tenure such as subversion, extrajudicial killings, theft and money laundering”.

 

GULU-UGANDA: On October 20, 2011, Africa’s longest serving dictator of 42 years, the deposed leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, was found hiding in a culvert, west of Sirte and captured by the National Transitional Council Forces. He was killed shortly afterwards.

This brought his regime to a brutal end and Libya has never seen peace since his exit from the political stage of Libya and Africa in general.

His body, that of his son, Mutessim and that of a former aide were buried in a secret desert location where they were all given full Islamic burial rites.

Gaddafi became the first casualty of what later became known internationally as the ‘Arab Spring’ —a mass protests which swept through North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; and Bahrain, Yemen and Syria in the Middle East.

The whole drama ensued from an act of protest in Bouazizi, Tunisia, when a 26-year-old man set himself ablaze on December 17, 2010, after a brush with a police when his cart of merchandise, that he was hawking, was confiscated by a policewoman who had slapped him and spat on his face.

These protests also saw the brutal end of the 30-year-old regime of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in February 2011, and the 24-year-old reign of President Zine El Abidine Ben Alli of Tunisia, who was forced to flee on January 14, 2011.

Another long serving African Dictator who was forced out of power through the intervention of the military is Zimbabwe’s Mr. Robert Mugabe, whose 37-year-old reign came to abrupt end in December 2017.

Unlike the late Gaddafi who was killed during the revolution, Ben Alli who was forced to flee his country or Mubarak, was arrested during the uprising, while Mugabe is lucky to have negotiated his safe exit with a $10 million dollar-bonus as retirement package.

In order to cede power, Mugabe will also get a residence, twenty staffs, a fleet of chauffeur driven cars, security guards, diplomatic passport, pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting President, four trips within Zimbabwe and four trips abroad on a private plane.

Mr. Mugabe now joins Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos who refused to stand again in the April 23, 2017 election.

Some of his retirement packages include 90% of his salary ($6,200), air travels, chauffeur driven cars and immunity from prosecution.

“As ‘president of the republic emeritus honorary, he could only be judged before a special tribunal ‘for criminal or civil liability’ for acts unrelated to the exercise of his functions’- that is to say for any alleged corruption.

This now leaves Africa with three longest serving heads of states whose peaceful exit from leadership is not predicted in the near future. They are Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea who has ruled for 38 years since august 1979, Mr. Paul  Biya of Cameroon who has ruled for 35 years since November 1982 , and Uganda’s General Yoweri Museveni who has ruled Uganda for 32 years since January 26, 1986.

President Museveni has just assented to a controversial new law which amended Article 102(b) by removing presidential age-limit of 75 years (upper scale), which was in the constitution, and has given green light for Mr. Museveni, now 73 years old, to run again in future elections.

This has angered majority of Ugandans including opposition, religious, cultural and other civil society organization (CSO) leaders. The Uganda Law Society has since joined scores to petition court over the new law. This has dashed any hope for a peaceful transfer of power in Uganda since the country gained independence in 1962.

Ugandan laws on succession are so unfavorable that a sitting president, like Museveni, cannot easily accept to leave power peacefully because of fear of prosecution for crimes he might have committed while in office. He only enjoys immunity while in office.

Article 98(5) of the 1995 Constitution, which states that: “civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person after ceasing to be President; in respect for anything done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity before or during the term of office of that person, and any period of limitation in respect of such proceedings shall not be taken to run during the period while that person was President” does not favor peaceful transfer of power from one president to another in Uganda.

On June 23, 2010 Uganda parliament approved the Emoluments and Benefits of the President, Vice president and Prime Minister bill 2009 which gives retiring presidents a ‘fully furnished house, chauffeur driven cars, health insurance policy, security guards, education allowances to four biological children; but  it still contains that dreaded clause which says a person is “disqualified if they have committed a crime during their tenure such as subversion, extrajudicial killings, theft and money laundering”.

Ugandans should entice Museveni to cede power peacefully, just like the Generals who presided over the exit of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for instance, by promoting him to the rank of a Field Marshall, immunity from prosecution, even in his retirement and some dollar bills as send off. These two laws which scare him should also be revisited and amended.

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UGANDA: GULU UNIVERSITY UNVEILS POLICY BRIEFS ON ‘TRUST’ LAND

“Gulu University has its role in doing research. If you have a problem affecting the community, then do participatory research”

“What will happen if every land is sold? Do we have to go to live in open space in towns because we have nowhere to stay? We are caught up in a transition era where we are moving away from communal to individual ownership of land. We need more studies to guide this transition”

GULU-UGANDA: The Deputy Vice Chancellor and also in-coming Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, Professor George Openjuru-Ladah has said the University’s Institute of Peace & Strategic Studies (IPSS) has a role to play in doing ‘participatory research’ on problems that are affecting communities in northern Uganda.

Openjuru-Ladah says through research, solutions to problems which are affecting communities can be found.

“Gulu University has its role in doing research. If you have a problem affecting the community, then do participatory research”, observes Prof. Openjuru-Ladah.

He made these comments on Thursday, December 14, 2017, while closing a one-day workshop for the dissemination of six policy briefs research reports on land issues titled ‘Trust Land Policy Briefs’.

The researches were jointly conducted by the University’s IPSS and the Department of Anthropology-University of Copenhagen conducted in northern Uganda and the Ik community of Karamoja sub-region between 2013 and 2017.

Professor Openjuru-Ladah observed that northern Uganda is confronted with land sales in rural areas for the first time in the history of the region where young boys steal customary land to buy motorcycle taxis in order to make quick money for reckless living. He says some of the youths are claiming land given by their forefathers to institutions like schools, churches and administrative headquarters.

“What will happen if every land is sold? Do we have to go to live in open spaces in towns because we have nowhere to stay? We are caught up in a transition era where we are moving away from communal to individual ownership of land. We need more studies to guide this transition”, says Professor Openjuru-Ladah.

The first policy brief presents findings on ‘Legal Pluralism in Land Dispute Management in Amuru, Pader and Agago districts between 2016 and 2017 where over twenty land disputes were monitored.

“Twenty years of armed conflict in northern Uganda ended formally in 2006, but the emergence and rapid escalation of land conflicts hastened hope for a peaceful return in post-war northern Uganda. These disputes continues, a decade after resettlement. These disputes are occurring in the context of a plural legal environment, where more than one institution is involved in land management”, reads part of the brief.

The second policy brief titled: “Women and Land in Acholi Sub-region: Safeguarding Rights, Promoting Access” highlights social relations between different categories of people including men, women, youth and elders who are fraught with tensions and contradictions over land matters.

“Land is the most emotive, culturally sensitive, politically volatile and economically central issue in Uganda. In northern Uganda, ninety-three per cent of land is under customary tenure and is currently marred by conflicts and social tensions”, reads part of the second brief.

The third policy brief deals with youth, livelihood and access to land in northern Uganda where a whole generation of youth has grown up in concentration camps, commonly referred to as “internally displaced persons (IDP) camps amidst poverty and insecurity without sufficient access to education and reliable services.

“Scholarly and popular attention has been focused mainly on urban youth and unemployment. There is less appreciation of the situation of rural youth and their access to land-even though the majority of young people live in rural areas and engaged in agriculture”, the third report concludes.

The forth policy brief deals with ‘Institutional Land Conflicts’ where private and public institutions such as churches, health centers, schools and local governments are facing claims on the land they occupy.

The land holding is most often not registered as the land was given as entrustment or it was a public land that belonged to the state until the Constitution of 1995.

“Evictions should not be done in haste. People should be oriented in good time about institutional plans for development and possible benefits to the community”, part of the forth policy brief recommends.

The fifth policy brief deals with ‘Conflict over Protected Areas for Wildlife Conservation in Northern Uganda’ which revealed that in Purongo, which borders Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), local people hardly value wildlife protection due to their own negative experience.

“The neighbors of MFNP and other protected areas for wildlife conservation suffer from crop raids of wild animals and particularly hungry elephants, which cross the park border and sometimes destroy the harvest of a year in a few hours, damage huts and granaries where stocks are kept, and attack, injure and even kill people”, says part of the fifth brief.

The sixth policy brief was conducted in Ik county of Karamoja sub-region which identified three land related issues affecting the Ik community since they are entirely dependent on the land and natural resources. These issues are in-migration and transgression by pastoralists and their herds, tensions between National forestry authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and investments in land by foreigners with unknown development plans.

“The Ik community, which counts around 6,000, are semi-nomadic subsistence agriculturalists and hunters-gatherers living in mountains between cattle herder groups: Turkana (Kenya) and Dodoth (Uganda), have  ambivalent relations to both groups as they sometimes plunder Ik villages, while at other times the groups trade and develop ties of friendship and trust” says part of the brief.

Below: The in-coming Vice-chancellor of Gulu university, Professor George Openjuru-Ladaah

Pro. Openyjuru-Ladah

UGANDA: ACHOLI LAYS FOUNDATION FOR IMPROVING THE MANAGEMENT OFHEALTH, EDUCATION AND LAND SECTORS

 

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Acholi Cultural King, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, in one of his community meetings

“For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”

“Wang-OO was initiated by a group of youths to unite the people of Acholi.  If we don’t unite, then development cannot take place in Acholi”

KITGUM-UGANDA: After  failing to get compensated by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government of ‘Dictator and Ruler for Life’ President Yoweri Museveni, after a two-decade senseless war which destroyed the region causing millions in losses, the people of Acholi has finally come together to discuss challenges affecting post conflict recovery in Acholi sub-region.

Although  the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion ended about twelve years ago ( in 2006), the region is still walloping in poverty despite government programs like Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Program (NURP), Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and Peace, Recovery and Development Program (PRDP) which were meant to rehabilitate the region.

The World Bank reported in its 2016 annual report that in 2013, more than a third of Uganda’s citizens lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day.

“For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”, reads part of the report.

It is on this background that about fifty youths went and met former Member of Parliament for Chua County, in Kitgum district, Mr. John Livingstone Okello-Okello on November 7, 2015, in Kiwatule a suburb of Kampala and wrote a concept paper to establish Wang-OO (bonfire) with the sole aim of helping the people who have returned home from Internally Displaced Persons Camp (IDP) unite and fight poverty amongst them.

“Wang-OO was initiated by a group of youths to unite the people of Acholi.  If we don’t unite, then development cannot take place in Acholi”, says chairman of the new body, Mr. Okello-Okello.

He made these remarks on December 1, 2017, during the third meeting of all leaders, elders and civil society leaders from Acholi sub-region which was convened at Kitgum Technical Institute under the theme; “Laying a foundation for re-organizing, re-building and restoring Acholi community by improving the management of Health, Education and Land sectors”.

Mr. Okello-Okello said that donors are tired of giving money for the reconstruction of northern Uganda, where results are not reflected on the people apart from infrastructures like schools, health centers and road network.

He appealed to the community to revive the old concept of ‘self-help’ if the region wants to get out of abject poverty and develop saying, if they don’t embrace the concept then they will be mocked by other Ugandans.

“If we sit and wait for donor and government to provide us money for development, then we are in for a shock. We should embrace the old concept of self-help if we don’t want others to mock as us. We are years behind other Ugandans”, says the former legislator.

The Member of Parliament for Kitgum Municipality, Ms. Beatrice Atim Anywar, appealed to the people of Acholi to massively, plant trees on all empty land not under cultivation to avoid land grabbing for other Ugandans who think we don’t know how to utilize our land.

“Other Ugandans, who come here and see our un-cultivated land, think we don’t know how to utilize the land. The best way to prevent land grabbing is for us to plant trees on all empty land”, says Ms. Anywar.

The retired Anglican Bishop of Kitgum Diocese, Rt. Reverend Macleod Baker Ocholla IIsaid Acholi ancestors managed to protect large chunks of land from neighboring tribes by waging wars on those neighbors who infiltrate Acholi land boundaries.

“The River Nile was our natural border with the Banyoro and Madi. We went to war with the Madi people over boundaries. The Acholi warriors captured a girl from Madi and brought her here. She was given to one of the soldiers as wife. She bore a baby boy and the child was named ‘Allimadi’. You have all heard of Otema-Allimadi who was Uganda’s Prime Minister” says Bishop Ochola.

The meeting resolved that the people of Acholi should hold government accountable for the strange disease, the Nodding Syndrome whose causes are still unknown. They also resolved that all the eight district local government should enact ordinances against the sale and consumption of alcohol.

On the poor educational performance in the region, the meeting resolved to set up a special select committee to do research on why pupils and students don’t perform well in national examinations; to establish academic competitions among schools and that each clan should have an agenda to improve on education in their communities.

The Acholi cultural King, Rwot David Onen-Acana II, decried the rate at which the community is destroying the environment through massive tree cutting and wetland degradation. He appealed to local governments to implement the resolutions passed by Wang OO.

UGANDA: OPPOSITION LEADER FAULTS MUSEVENI FOR PERVERTING NRM MPS TO ABUSE CONSTITUTION

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Mr. Norbert Mao, the leader of the oldest political party in Uganda-DP

“It is not a question of numbers. If the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs say Acholi should be declared a National Park because they have the numbers in parliament, then Acholi can easily be declared a National Park. That approach will not settle the political dust we have in Uganda”

“We should adjust ourselves to the constitutional provisions, but not the constitution adjusting to our wishes. The constitution should be our ‘shock absorbers’. Those amendments watered down decentralization. Should we amend the bible? That kind of move is a crude way of doing business”,

GULU-UGANDA: The President-General of Uganda’s oldest political party, the Democratic Party (DP), Mr. Norbert Mao, has said that Dictator President Yoweri Museveni is abusing the large numbers of Members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to his party to abuse and arbitrarily amend the 1995 Constitution to enable him rule for life.

“It is not a question of numbers. If the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs say Acholi should be declared a National Park because they have the numbers in parliament, then Acholi can easily be declared a National Park. That approach will not settle the political dust we have in Uganda”, says Mao.

Mr. Mao made the remarks on Friday, December 15, 2017 while opening a public meeting organized in Acholi Inn, Gulu, by the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) under the theme: ‘Putting Uganda First’; for leaders of political parties represented in the tenth Parliament, Civil Society and the media in Acholi and Lango sub-regions.

Founded in 2010, IPOD is a consortium of political parties represented in Parliament which includes Democratic Party-DP, Forum for Democratic Change-FDC, National Resistance Movement-NRM and Uganda Peoples’ Congress-UPC. It was initiated by development partners to ‘promote interparty dialogue and cooperation as a means for dealing with political differences and managing conflict without resorting to undemocratic means including violence; to foster and facilitate peaceful mitigation and resolution of conflicts within and between political parties, among other objectives’.

Mr. Mao cited that in 2005 alone, Mr. Museveni maneuvered 45 different amendments to the constitution which has ‘removed term limits, consolidated power of government to Mr. Museveni; he now makes thousands of appointments and has removed the power to own minerals underground from landowners and handed it to government.

“We should adjust ourselves to the constitutional provisions, but not the constitution adjusting to our wishes. The constitution should be our ‘shock absorbers’. Those amendments watered down decentralization. Should we amend the bible? That kind of move is a crude way of doing business”, says Mao

There is a debate currently going on in parliament to remove Article 102(b) from the constitution which bars anybody below 35 years and above 75 to stand for the position of president, and to extend the term of parliament from five to seven years. Museveni is now 73 and would not be legible to stand again in 2021 unless that amendment is passed.

Mr. Mao accused President Yoweri Museveni for frustrating the work of IPOD by refusing to attend its Summit meetings since it was founded but sends only junior officials who cannot make independent decisions concerning NRM party positions on IPOD issues.

He appealed to leaders of different political parties in Northern Uganda to put their political differences aside and work together to solve disputes among themselves for the good of the country.

“I believe we are all here because we serve our country. Let us stop thinking that political parties don’t matter in this country. Political parties are indispensible. IPOD was set up to settle disputes and disagreements among the different political parties and promote dialogue-dialogue on matter of Constitutionalism”, says Mao.

He revealed that when he first entered parliament in 1996, he and Mr. Daniel Omara-Atubo tabled a motion in parliament which took the suffering of the people in northern Uganda caused by the senseless war going on between government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at a time when government didn’t want it investigated.

“We presented a minority report signed by only two of us. The beauty of democracy is that you stay in the arena. If you stay you eventually win the battle. I am pleased President Museveni agreed to talks. Today we have peace in northern Uganda. You cannot have dialogue with your friends only but with people who have hurt you too”, says Mao.  “We believe that whether we like it or not, eventually we have to come together to table because we are guided by dreams of a better Uganda”.

 

 

 

 

 

UGANDA: CHOOSING MUSEVENI AS CHIEF GUEST AT A CULTURAL FESTIVAL ATTRACTS “HULLABALOO”

a poor acholi man

A typical poor Acholi man, pauses for the camera while exploring his sesame (simsim) garden in Lamwo district recently.

“Event organizers around the country worth the ink used to write their names know this fact-that President Museveni is Uganda’s only chief guest”

“There is hullabaloo among the Acholi elite-on and offline-about the wisdom or lack of it in Ker Kwaro Acholi (the Acholi Cultural Institution) extending an invitation to President Museveni to be the Chief Guest at the Acholi Cultural Festival scheduled for December 14-16, 2017”

GULU-UGANDA: Acholi Times (www.acholitimes.com)-an online publication, wrote two articles on December 10 and December 12, 2017 respectively; on the wisdom of the Acholi Cultural institution to invite Uganda’s dictator of 32 years, Yoweri Museveni, to be the Chief Guest at the upcoming Acholi Cultural Festival scheduled for December 14-16, 2017.

The article on December 10, had its headline; “Museveni is a Delicate Guest at The Acholi Cultural Festival”.

“If this festival was not merely to bring the president, the vision would have even been stronger. The event would have been followed by Acholi Development Conference, or the cultural institution launching something like Acholi Development Foundation, Acholi Tourism Board, Acholi Bursary Scheme or something like that to rehabilitate education to launch an Acholi Investment Bank to offer soft loans in the Agricultural Sector for grains etc. Farming is Acholi’s comparative advantage as food basket”, reads part of the article that day.

The article on December 12 had its headline; “Acholi Cultural Festival: Hullabaloo over Chief Guest”.

“Event organizers around the country worth the ink used to write their names know this fact-that President Museveni is Uganda’s only Chief Guest….There is hullabaloo among the Acholi elite- on and offline-about the wisdom or lack of it in Ker Kwaro Acholi (the Acholi Cultural Institution) extending an invitation to President Museveni to be the Chief Guest at the Acholi Cultural Festival scheduled for December 14-16 2017”.

In the social media, especially Facebook forum, debate was sparked by one Okano EMar, who questioned, more than three weeks ago, the wisdom of choosing President Museveni as Chief Guest yet he has been on record saying that cultural leaders should not meddle in politics; yet it was under his regime that the Acholi as a tribe, suffered most.

There was a two decade war in the northern Uganda where the people lost their livelihood when their only source of wealth-cattle were stolen, many people were either killed or died of preventable diseases, under his watch and those who escaped death were herded into concentration camps dubbed; “Protected villages”.

“It is very annoying that the Acholi Cultural Institution decided to invite President Museveni to be the Chief Guest yet it was under his leadership that the Acholi, as a people suffered most” adding; “If he doesn’t want cultural leaders to meddle in political matters, then why is he meddling in cultural matters like in this particular event?” asserts Okano.

It is argument like this by Okano, that has forced very many elite sons and daughters of Acholi, both within the country like renowned international lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo; and those in the Diaspora, to cancel plans to attend the three-day’ festival in protest.

“For a long time and for various reasons including repression, conflict, social, economic and cultural regression, the Acholi have not been able to coalesce and celebrate the great attributes that make them a people”, reads part of the concept paper of the festival.

Because of the grave mistake the cultural institution has made, the Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, Mr. Ambrose Olaa, addressed a press conference together with some sponsors like Africell telephone company and Uganda Breweries Limited at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) and tried very much to correct the damage caused by the invitation to Museveni.

 

According to Mr. Olaa, the organizers have decided to create the position of a Guest of Honor, who shall be the head of the cultural institution, Rwot David Onen Acana II, while President Museveni has been invited as Chief Guest.

“You should not forget that President Museveni is also the Fountain of Honor of this country. If he chooses to come, then he will automatically become the chief guest, by virtue of his status. He has, however, not yet confirmed if he will come or not”, says Mr.Olaa.

Organized under the theme: “Kwero Deyo pa Acholi”, meaning; celebrating the ‘pride and glory’ of the Acholi people, the event is estimated to attract over 10000 guests and over 1000 performers and artifacts and cost over shs.150 million (about $42,000 dollars).

Major activities will include Acholi games, learning history, foods and drink exhibition, music and dances.

“The festival will galvanize and endear the people of Acholi to their culture and tradition, promote the unity of Acholi people and reinforce values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong ethic, and the value of being selfless”, says part of the concept note.

According to the Presidential Advisor on Agriculture, Professor J.J. Otim, Acholi of the olden days had 200 different cuisines (types of food), but regrets that their cultural institution has kept record of only 56 different types of seeds.

He says the region is full of foreign researchers; he calls ‘gene hunters’ who come to do research on the different types of seeds and take it to their countries; later returning them back to Africa as their inventions.

Will such festival unite the Acholi; or will it bring food to table to a poor Acholi who eats less than a dollar per day?

 

UGANDA HAS NO POLITICAL WILL TO END EXTREME POVERTY AS REGIONAL DISPARITIES MANIFEST ITSELF

 

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A typical grandmother in rural northern region has to take care of her grandchildren.

Uganda’s success is not without caveats. In 2013, more than a third of its citizens lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day….For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”

“It is true that there are disparities in economic development. This is not a new thing. The north and east have always lagged behind”

“Is there anything worth mentioning which NUSAF and PRDP have done? The government has no political will to develop the north, but if you see in terms of figures spent in northern Uganda, you won’t believe”

GULU-UGANDA: According to World Bank’s Poverty Assessment report 2016, despite the substantial progress that has been sustained over two decades to end extreme poverty, Uganda remains a very poor country with glaring disparities.

Poverty has become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country as the Central and Western regions have experienced more rapid poverty reduction.

“However, Uganda’s success is not without caveats. In 2013, more than a third of its citizens lived below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day….For every three Ugandans that moved out of poverty, two fell into poverty. Poverty has also become increasingly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern regions of the country”, part of the abridged version of the report reads.

In 2006, approximately 68% percent of the poor lived in northern and eastern parts of the country. Seven years later, this proportion increased to 84% percent. Poverty has fallen in all regions, but gains have been slower in poorer Northern and Eastern regions.

The annual percent reduction in poverty has been almost twice as high in the Central and Western regions (7.4% and 7.9% percent respectively) than in the Northern and Eastern regions (3.1% and 4.7% percent respectively).

The report shows that high growth from 2006 to 2010 benefited poverty reduction. Although growth slowed for all households from 2010, poor households were able to maintain above average consumption growth and poverty did not falter.

Agricultural income growth particularly benefited poor households aided by peace in northern Uganda, improved regional markets, and good weather.

The Director of the Uganda Media Center and Government spokesman, Mr. Ofwono-Opondo, says the disparity in economic development between northern and eastern regions; as compared to that of Central and Western regions, has always been there but not a creation of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.

“It is true that there are disparities in economic development. This is not a new thing. The north and east have always lagged behind” says Ofwono-Opondo.

He says the government is trying to address the disparities in economic development through affirmative action programs like the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) and the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF).

He says the problem has been acerbated by the conflict in neighboring South Sudan which has affected the regional markets for our agricultural produce and is also straining Uganda’s resources.

Informal export from Uganda to South Sudan grew enormously between 2005 and 2008 before the latest round of conflict in south Sudan from US$9.1 million dollars in 2005 to US$929.9 million dollars in 2008. Formal exports also increased, but less dramatically, from US$50.5 million in 2005 to $245.9 million dollars in 2008, according to International Alert report.

“For the north to catch up quickly, there is need to restore stability in South Sudan and the region to move away from rain-fed agricultural practice to irrigation”, says Mr. Ofwono-Opondo.

According to the former Member of Parliament for Chua County in Kitgum district, Mr. John Livingstone Okellokello, the government of dictator President Yoweri Museveni has no “political will” to bridge the gap in disparities between the north and the rest of the country.

He says money which is supposed to develop northern region like NUSAF and PRDP are always stolen by the people recruited on sectarian basis.

“Is there anything worth mentioning which NUSAF and PRDP have done? The government has no political will to develop the north, but if you see in terms of figures spent in northern Uganda, you won’t believe” says the former legislator.

According a member of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Professor Sam Obwoya Kinyera; the north has a lot of potential to develop and catch up with the rest of the country if the region adopts industrialization and educating the children.

“It is true the war took us so many years behind other regions which have been peaceful and their children were getting good education. We need youth empowerment because economic growth depends on education. Western Uganda is high because the people there are educated and have own income”, says the Professor.

A typical poor grandmother in rural northern Uganda

http://www.blackstarnews.com/global-politics/africa/uganda-has-no-political-will-to-end-extreme-poverty-as

UGANDA: JAPANESE NGO BRINGS SMILES TO FORMER LRA VICTIMS THROUGH VOCATIONAL TRAINING

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Ms. Harriet Kilak, demonstrating how to design dresses

“I would like to take this opportunity to send our appreciation to Terra Renaissance for giving us the opportunity to do our vocational training here. Most of us had no opportunity to study because of the LRA war. We had no opportunity to continue with studies. Other students who went through this training are now self-reliant”

“I grew up and was raised by a single mother during the most trying moments of the war in northern Uganda. I am doing training in tailoring and dress designing. Before coming here, I didn’t know how to operate a sewing machine. When I graduate next year, I intend to start up a tailoring school at my village in Lukome”

GULU-UGANDA: I mistook twenty-six-year-old Ms. Harriet Kilak to be one of the trainers of former child soldiers and victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who undergo vocational training at the Terra Renaissance Support Center for Self-Reliance, yet she is one of the trainees at the center herself.

As one of the invited guests to the 4th graduation ceremony of Terra Renaissance’s 7th beneficiaries, I arrived at this center at about 9.30 am local time (6.30 GMT). Ms. Kilak, who was dressed like Uganda’s first lady, Ms. Janet Museveni, with a black & white spotted dress and a cow-boy straw hat, was busy arranging flowers on the chief guest’s table.

I learnt much later during the course of the day, that she was actually not one of the tutors, but a student, after she was requested by management to come forward and a make a speech as a head girl.

“I would like to take this opportunity to send our appreciation to Terra Renaissance for giving us the opportunity to do our vocational training here. Most of us had no opportunity to study because of the LRA war. We had no opportunity to continue with studies. Other students who went through this training are now self-reliant”, she says.

It is now very difficult to comprehend how our unfortunate brothers and sisters, who wore scars of the brutal  war ten years ago, just like Ms. Kilak, has transformed and recovered through the assistances of some NGOs like Terra Renaissance or through personal resilience.

In the case of Ms. Kilak, her father, the late Andrew Latim Ogol, was killed during the insurgency when she was only three years old. She and two other siblings were raised up by her mother, Auma Vicky, from Lukodi protected internally displaced camp where in 2004, 56 civilians were killed by the LRA. Her mother could not afford to educate her beyond senior four at Gulu Army Secondary School.

“I grew up and was raised by a single mother during the most trying moments of the war in northern Uganda. I am now doing training in tailoring and dress designing. Before coming here, I didn’t know how to operate a sewing machine. When I graduate next year, I intend to start up a tailoring school at my village in Lukome”, says Ms. Kilak.

The Center, which is intended to promote reintegration of former child soldiers and victims of LRA rebellion in northern Uganda, provide vocational training in tailoring and dress design, handicraft, carpentry & joinery and small scale business management to enable the trainees be able to generate own income for self-reliance.

The center, which was established in 2006, is being supported by a Japanese Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Terra Renaissance through funding from that country’s tax-payers and is located in Kanyagoga “A” village, Kanyagoga Parish in Bardege Division in Gulu City.

Another graduates,  27-year-old Ms. Monica Akwero, did not only drop out of school in Primary six from Lalogi sub-county, Omoro district, but she was also abducted by the LRA in 2003 until 2004 and defiled while in captivity. She is now sharing graduation with her three-year old daughter Prossy while in LRA captivity.

Just like Ms. Kilak, it is difficult to know that Ms. Akwero was a former LRA abductee by her looks unless she tells you. She is happily married to a new husband and is determined to educate all her children even without support from her husband, but through tailoring and other economic enterprises she does back home.

“I used to despise tailoring profession, but through the training I had, I now find it a very profitable profession. Vocational profession does not want laziness. I am now determined to buy land and design sewing machines to establish a tailoring school in Lalogi” says Ms. Akwero.

The Regional Manager of the NGO, Mr. Tatsujiro Suzuka, says the mission of his organization is “to restore the dignity, self-esteem and welfare for the disadvantaged through community based psychosocial and economic interventions, as we move towards a society of self-reliance and a total transformation of the society for a peaceful co-existence”.

The Chief Guest, Rwot Yusuf Adek of Pageya Kingdom, told the grandaunts that he was arrested by the government thirteen times in the course of the rebellion because he was trying to broker a peaceful resolution of the conflict which could have resulted in Acholi losing their land.

“I met Kony in 2005 in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo and I briefed him on the plight of the people caused by the war. I told him that the Acholi would lose their land through government plan of establishing permanent settlement while in camps in the region. I told him not to turn his guns on innocent civilians but face the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF)”, says Rwot Adek.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was founded by a former catechist in the Catholic Church, Joseph Kony, thirty years ago with the supposed aim of overthrowing the government of President Yoweri Museveni and rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments.

His campaign of terror, which went on for over twenty years until 2006,  has claimed at least 100,000 lives and drove 2.5 million people from their homes in northern Uganda. As many as 100,000 children have fallen into the hands of the LRA, being forced to fight or enslaved as sex slaves; or as porters.

Writing in the Telegraph newspaper on March 03, 2016, Aislinn Loiling, reported that the LRA abducted 200 people in the months of January and February 2016 alone while Associate Director of Enough Project says the new attacks indicates that Kony’s LRA “is not yet down and out”.