Uganda Peoples Congress

Miria excites Kitgum town

From NEW VISION, 11 January, 2006

By Chris Ocowun

Miria Obote works up the crowd of supporters in Kitgum town on Monday where she promised peace

UPC presidential candidate Miria Kalule Obote set Kitgum town on fire on Monday where she held a big rally. She blasted President Yoweri Museveni for "herding" the people in northern and northeastern Uganda into camps like animals.

Miria was received by ecstatic crowds who braved the afternoon scorching sun. She travelled under thin security provided by Lira, Pader and Kitgum Police.

She made stopovers at the internally displaced people's (IDPs) camps and attracted applause. She said, "For 20 years since UPC was overthrown, you have had wars. I don't want you to be herded like animals in these camps.

Museveni went to the bush on the pretext that UPC rigged the 1980 elections. Even if Museveni's party, Uganda Patriotic Movement, won all the elected seats, they would not have formed a government because they were few."

"Museveni went to the bush with a vision and had a dream of dividing Uganda into two: One prosperous and the other part, northern and northeastern, living in abject poverty and in camps. He turned people in this part of Uganda into paupers," she said.

Miria said during UPC regimes, Uganda's economy depended mainly on 3Ts (Tea, Tobacco and Tourism) and 3Cs (Coffee, Cotton and Copper). But the NRM government had killed all co-operatives and societies.

"People used to grow their cotton, sure of a certain price. Now you grow cotton in the camps and where will you sell it? Cotton ginneries have been closed. Some are not there at all," Miria added. Her speech was greeted with loud drumming from the crowd who abandoned all other business to cheer her.

Miria said Museveni went to the northeast and took the animals, leaving the owners as beggars who could not resist bribes from his agents. She promised a truth and reconciliation commission to reconcile people and bring peace in the north.

"People will be free to give evidence and tell the commission what happened in the different parts of Uganda and why there are wars. My government will listen to the commission. We want to start the process of healing our nation. But we cannot do these unless you vote for UPC from LC1-5, to the presidency."

She said her first task when she takes over government will be to return people home from the internally displaced people's camps and stop people living on WFP handouts. "You will go and grow your own food," she stated.

Miria said, "We promised to build hospitals when we came to power in the 1980s and we built 23 hospitals in the rural areas which have been neglected. They have no drugs or beds and patients sleep on papyrus mats. We will rehabilitate these hospitals and schools."

"During the last 20 years when UPC was not active in politics, UPC members got lost seeking shelter in other parties' houses. Come back to UPC. The journey has taken 20 years but we have made it.

Together with you, I want to bring peace to the whole nation. Only UPC can bring peace," she said.

Miria was flanked by party vice-president John Livingstone Okello-Okello, national youth leader Benson Ogwal, former minister for supplies in Obote's regime Dr. Moses Apiliga and Dr. Obote's personal doctor, Opio Opiote. She also addressed rallies in Pader town and Acholibur camps before the Kitgum rally.

Miria appealed to women and their husbands to vote for her, a concerned mother. "Fellow congressmen and women, vote an honest mother who is not a thief and will not take her daughter to deliver abroad," she said as the crowd roared with laughter. Okello-Okello, who is also vying for the Chua county MP seat, was tipped to be the vice-president if Miria wins.