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The East African : Nov 28th 2015
14 The EastAfrican NEWS NOVEMBER 28 - DECEMBER 4, 2015 POLITICIANS’ PLAYGROUND Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni campaigns in Lira in 2010. Picture: File Ex-allies in bruising battle for North vote Mbabazi pledges to hand ove≥ powe≥ to the ≥egion afte≥ one te≥m as Museveni ≥ecycles old p≥omises By CHARLES KAZOOBA Special Correspondent President Yoweri Museveni and hand over state power to the long-suffering people of northern Uganda is pulling crowds. But in a bid to counter his A former prime minister, President Museveni staked more money in fulfilling pledges he made in previous election campaigns — including compensation for war veterans — as the underdeveloped region becomes a playground in the political contest pitting the two former allies and a third force, the head of state’s allyturned-foe Dr Kizza Besigye. According to 2nd Lt (Rtd) Moses Opio Oba, who is driving the president’s campaign in Apac District, a list of all war claimants — all 52,000 of them — will be verified between November 30 and December 30 to pave the way for their compensation. “And you must know that all these people are in rural areas and have influence over households,” the former Lira Municipality chairman told The EastAfrican in Lira. “So, we hope the compensation will translate into votes.” In 2006, more than 24,000 people from northern Uganda’s Acholi and Lango subregions successfully sued the government for more than $1 billion in compensation for property lost during the 1986-2006 war with rebels. When another group of about 50,000 claimants emerged, the government promised to handle their case. The government is now said to be ready to offset the claims, and this timing favours President Museveni. However, Mr Mbabazi re- mains unfazed. To counter President Museveni’s juicy campaign offers, the former secretary-general of the ruling NRM party has upped his mobilisation network by creating permanent campaign committees from the district to the village level. And, like the president, he is to tour each district as opposed to the current trips to regions. Mr Mbabazi’s strategy has mama Mbabazi’s pledge to end the long reign of been the use of well-crafted messages: Knowing that few people care about details of a manifesto, his dominant line is about the transition from NRM’s 30-year rule. “This is what we want to here,” said Titus Boniface Obote, a son of former President Dr Milton Obote. “Amama has promised to leave after one term in office but Museveni has not even thought about his successor. “And Besigye is perceived as one interested in revenge; that is how he has always sounded. And since northerners are peace-loving Ugandans, they don’t want hate messages.” The former premier’s mes- sages also give hope to the people of northern Uganda, who have suffered a lot during the 20 years of war between the military and the Lord’s Resistance Army. “People no longer care if Museveni is constructing roads, bridges and hospitals,” said Lira District Local Council V chairman Alex Oremo. “They are complaining about his overstay. “They want reinstatement of term limits and a change of leadership.” President Museveni, who will have been in power for three decades on January 26, is expected to have a better campaign package but he continues to repeat promises of past elections, which makes him appear off-track. Referring to the president’s promise to in Lango sub-region that he will tarmac the Apac-Lira road, Otim Bonny, a social worker in Lira, told The EastAfrican: “That road has always been a pledge in all presidential campaigns by President Museveni.” He added: “There are no gloves and medicine in Lira Referral Hospital. Instead, the president is offering our women sanitary pads.” In West Nile, the president promised 18 million hoes to six million households, which was seen as unrealistic. With a hoe retailing at Ush7,500 ($2), the total cost would be Ush135 billion ($40 million), or 28 per cent of the Agriculture Ministry’s budget for the current fiscal year.
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