21 February 2013

Uganda: Govt Does Not Marginalize North - Minister

Government does not marginalize northern Uganda as alleged by Members of Parliament from Acholi sub-region.

MPs from Acholi sub-region Wednesday accused the government of marginalization, which they said, is making them feel as if they are not Ugandans. They threatened to secede from Uganda and form a new country called the West Nile Republic.

"It is not true that the government is marginalizing them. What is going on is affirmative action to recover from the past 20 years," state minister for economic monitoring, Henry Banyenzaki said when contacted. He noted that the only thing lacking in northern Uganda are the roads.

'They need to cooperate and we work together. Corruption is not affecting northern Uganda alone but all regions equally. It is unfortunate that we had a problem in Office of the Prime Minister but they should cooperate with government to come up with a solution," he said.

He advised the people of northern Uganda to use this opportunity and commercialize their region.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament Building the MPs said they have started collecting signatures to pave way for the area to secede from Uganda and form a new country, the West Nile Republic.

MPs Reagan Okumu (Aswa), Gilbert Olanya (Kilak) and Beatrice Anywar (kitgum) accused the government of wanting to give their land to Madhvani to grow sugarcane, but warned that even if it is given away, they would fight tooth and nail to ensure that the investor leaves and the land reverts back to the Acholi people when President Yoweri Museveni leaves office.

In apparent reference to the money scandal in the Office of the Prime Minister, the MPs were concerned by the "rampant" corruption in the country and pointed out that they were fed up. "Even donor funds meant for us are being swindled," Anywar said.

"We have been marginalized for a very long time. We have had the LRA war for a very long time," she added citing education and health as some of the other areas where urgent attention is needed by the Government.

Anywar stated that last year, the government committed itself to doing everything possible to help patients suffering from "nodding disease' something that has not been done, she said. She told journalists that up to now there were no doctors to treat "nodding disease" patients.

"It is high time we broke away and formed our country called West Nile Republic," she said.

Olanya said, "The day Museveni leaves that investor will leave our land."

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