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MP blocked from speaking at predecessor’s burialPublish Date: Apr 28, 2014
MP blocked from speaking at predecessor’s burial
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MP Fox Odoi (far-right) and other Tororo leaders laid a wreath on the casket of former West Budama North MP William Oketcho. PHOTO/Faustine Odeke
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By Faustine Odeke

TORORO - West Budama North MP Fox Odoi was blocked from addressing mourners at the burial ceremony of his predecessor William Oketcho in Tororo district.

One angry man stepped up and snatched the microphone from the emcee and went on to assure the legislator to not dare come forward to address them.

This happened shortly after Odoi was called on to deliver his speech at the ancestral home of the fallen MP in Paya, West Budama North County.

The former lawmaker lost his battle to kidney complications two weeks ago at Mulago hospital in Kampala.

He has been described by Tororo district leaders as “a unifying factor” who always preached peace even during a time when the eastern Uganda district was sharply divided along tribal lines.

But his sendoff on Friday was highlighted by a melee that saw his former campaign manager issue threats to MP Odoi.

Asoka Owere Owori, who has worked on Oketcho’s campaign team before, directly told Odoi that he was not welcome to speak to the mourners.

‘’This is not going to happen here, please just invite any other MP to address the mourners but not Odoi,’’ he said, drawing applause from the crowd.

Later, he said that his former boss – the late Oketcho – had told him never to allow Odoi to speak at any of his functions as well as at his burial ceremony.

‘Embarrassing and sad experience’

Asoka’s actions prompted the deputy Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola, to summon the deputy regional police commander of Malaba region Sam Musisi to beef up security at the event.

The emcee, Tanga Odoi, described the turn of events as “embarrassing” and a “very sad experience” for him as a master of ceremony.

He went on to advise politicians to “avoid such embarrassment by mending their fences”.

Meanwhile, in her address, the state minister for primary health care Sarah Achieng Opendi told mourners Oketcho died prematurely after being affected by a decision to suspend him as the board chairman of National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).

Several notables attended the interment ceremony, including Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere who represented president Museveni as the chief mourner, the vice chancellor of Busitema University Prof. Mary Okwakol and the Adhola cultural leader Moses Owori.

Geoffrey Ekanya, the chairman of Tororo parliamentary caucus, was also present to send off the deceased MP.

‘King who loves my people’

In an apologetic tone, the Adhola cultural leader Owori was sorry, on behalf of his institution, for the embarrassing situation which he said was not the way things are done in the Jopadhola community.

He said it that was “just an incident and not the character of the Jopadhola people”.

“Apart from angels, human beings are likely to stray. We have an elaborate system of dialogue where we have been able to reconcile people who previously did not see eye-to-eye,” said Owori.

He assured mourners that such an incident would never occur again, underlining that he is a king who loves his subordinates and promotes unity for the purpose of development.

‘’When I spoke during the requiem mass of the late in Kampala, some people wondered how a king could go and mourn but I am a king who loves my people. A king without people is a bogus king and is like a bishop without a diocese,’’ he said.

The cultural leader urged leaders who have wronged the people they represent to repent and ask for forgiveness, be careful of what they say and stop making personal decisions without consulting the common person.

The man at the centre of the drama, Fox Odoi, declined to comment on the matter. He entered his car and left immediately the casket was lowered into the ground.

In a message read on his behalf by Prof. Kabwegyere, President Museveni described Oketcho as a decent and intelligent person who had a rare trend of uniting people.

He called him a great mentor who contributed a lot in the implementation of government duties, and also a good advocate for social and economic transformation of Uganda.

Museveni spoke of how the nation will be indebted to Oketcho’s contribution since he died too soon when his contribution was still needed. He contributed sh50 million towards the burial expenses.

The fallen politician, who is survived by a widow and six children, was accorded a nine-gun salute.

His wife, Helen Oketcho, described her husband as a “loving man who did not entertain any kind of conflict within the family”. She said whenever they picked up a quarrel, Oketcho would only look at her with a very pleasant smile, which would extinguish the brewing squabble.

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