Monday, September 7, 2009



Monday, 7th September, 2009
By Opiyo Oloya

ON her first international foray as Minister of State for Karamoja, First Lady Janet Museveni thrilled UNAA Chicago delegates on Saturday afternoon with a polished performance that got a standing ovation from an overflowing, standing-room only crowd.

Cool, calm and poised, Mrs. Museveni weathered what had threatened to turn into a raucous question period into a decidedly brilliant demonstration of her political smarts.

She determinedly addressed issues of corruption, tackled the question of why the UPDF had taken 20 years fighting the LRA, and waded calmly into the presidenatial term limits.

Mrs. Museveni was the keynote speaker at the UNAA’s Northern Uganda Forum chaired by Dr. Ben Omara Abe from Seattle, Washington.

With all the chairs occupied, expectant delegates crowded the back of the room and the doorways. When the minister finally walked into the room, the crowd cheered and ululated as she took the podium to address the best attended Northern Forum since its inception more than a decade ago.

She greeted all the delegates and brought greetings from Uganda. “By God’s grace, there is now peace and stability in all parts of Uganda,” she announced to loud applause.

The other panelists included Opiyo Oloya (Toronto), Dr. George Otto (Toronto), and Rosette Serwanga (Boston).
Otto spoke about the slight improvement in the health of the population, but argued that there was more to be done to eliminate preventable deaths.

The main attraction though was the address by Hon. Museveni. The minister displayed her political savvy in the question and answer session. Eager delegates soon became loud and seemed to become unruly as Janet answered questions.

To the question of the prolonged campaign against the LRA, the minister answered by asking the question: “How come, the United States with the best army in the world has taken so long to fight the war in Iraq?” Applause followed.

But the First Lady reserved the best for last when she decided to take on the issue of term limits.

Coolly without missing a beat, she said she was happy to answer the question.

“I believe that question was meant for my husband, and I will be happy to take the message to him,” she said as the audience lept to its feet in standing ovation.

The forum was also attended by Uganda’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and other government officials.