15 October 2013

Uganda: Sejusa, Govt Row a Lie - Minister

Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Henry Okello-Oryem last week used his Independence day speech in Kitgum to warn the Acholi people against embracing renegade general David Sejusa.

A chief guest at Boma grounds, Oryem also vividly revealed his feelings about the fall of the government of his father, Tito Okello Lutwa, 27 years ago. According to the minister, the raging conflict between the Museveni government and Gen Sejusa is 'a lie'.

He said unlike his father's government that was brought down by infighting and disunity, the present NRM government was a united front that could not lose power to a person like Sejusa. Sejusa has been in the news since April, when he fled the country.

Shortly after, the media reported a dossier in which he demanded an investigation into a rumoured plot to kill top army and government officials opposed to the alleged presidential ambitions of First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Brig Muhoozi heads the elite Special Forces Command, and both the government and the army have denied that he is eying his father's job.

In Oryem's own words, loosely translated into English from his largely Acholi speech, the minister said:

"When they talk about unity, earlier on the chairperson LC 5 [Kitgum] talked about unity, that if people are not united, if they are not together and if leaders don't unite and there are differences among people, there are those who tie your hands, those who incite violence, those who are jealous and say: 'we should remove this one from power; let's push him off, the results are bad.'"

Oryem said such disunity had made "our government for the people of Kitgum" lose power in 1986. Then, power fell to the National Resistance Movement, which Oryem now serves.

This was followed by some 20 years of rebellion, with various groups from the north fighting the Museveni government and brutalising the population. In recent years, however, relations between the sub-region and the NRM government have shown signs of thawing. Oryem is now one of the prominent faces of the regime in Acholi.

"Yesterday but one [October 7] we went to State House, and his worship, Mayor Ojara Okwera Richard [Kitgum] was also there. I told President Museveni that, 'president, president we are glad you have received us in State House. In this place they never used to invite the people of Kitgum to come and visit. It was our home we would go without fear, but today it is ashaming that we are only invited. But the disorganisation within us; that this government is for the people from Kitgum; that this government is for the people from the north; and others even said this thing is not for people from Kitgum - it is for Tito Okello and his family, that's why we lost it.

"What we had strongly held in our hands, we have lost. Today they (NRM) know what unity is. They know unity.

Now if they say this person has run away to London and is fighting the government, Sejusa, these are all lies [wongo]. You will follow Sejusa for nothing; they know what is happening in their house. What they are in, they are very united.

You think they can allow this thing to leave their hands, so that another person can inherit it? So that there is shame among them? You think this will happen? This will not happen. they have seen it from us, that if people are not united, if you don't stand together, the result is shame.

"So now the issue of Sejusa: Sejusa is a nobody, he is wasted. I was in London: you are nearly 60 years old in London, who will give you a job, you, an intelligence officer and army man, unless he went with his own technique?

"Let the heart of the Acholi people here be measured; you enter into something anyhow, you remain in it."

The minister strongly cautioned people against joining Sejusa.

"Do not enter in things anyhow. Sejusa, Sejusa is a nobody; he is not a threat to the government of Uganda. We know where he is, we know what he is doing, we even know that he is useless. So let him stay there. So now I ask you not to get involved in that issue."

Gen Sejusa, has also denied media reports that he has resigned his seat as Army representative in Parliament.

Through one of his lawyers, Joseph Luzige, Sejusa yesterday dismissed as false claims on social media that he tendered his resignation with the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

Sejusa still MP

"All the information being circulated that General Sejusa resigned from Parliament is not true" Luzige said.

"I talked to him and he told me that I have not resigned but that is government's propaganda to divert the public and he said that they [the government] are free to speak... "

Luzige said today by telephone. This denial comes hot on the heels of a Parliamentary push to unseat Gen Sejusa for skipping 15 consecutive parliamentary sittings. The Parliamentary Rules, Privileges and Discipline committee is moving into its third week of investigating Sejusa's absence.

Additional reporting by Deo Walusimbi

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