I am so happy to join you today as you celebrate the Europe Day. I bring you warm greetings and congratulations from the President and indeed the people of Uganda.
The Government appreciates the cordial relationship that we enjoy with the European Union (EU) and its member states.
Therefore, let me take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the European Union for the Co-operation and commitment shown to us over a long time and even recently in our concluded electoral process. This has been a demonstration of your commitment to support peace, stability and development of Uganda.
Let me also say that as we work towards the development and modernisation of our beloved country Uganda, we are inspired by the great strides that our friends like Europe has made to rebuild and project a positive image on the global stage after going through World Wars1 and ll.
The EU has over the years provided crucial partnership with Uganda in many areas. The budget support, infrastructure development, agriculture, public service reforms and so on and so forth.
In my work in Karamoja sub-region, I must acknowledge with gratitude the instrumental role that the EU has played in supporting Karamoja development programmes.
The EU has been an active partner and has shown its solidarity with Uganda by providing support in the implementation of Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Plan and the Northern Uganda Peace Recovery Plan (PRDP). We are all happy that peace and recovery are now a reality in Northern Uganda.
It is my prayer that success of these programmes will be evident in the lives of our people as we continue in this work.
I, therefore, salute the EU for your commitment to peace, recovery, the dignity and human rights of all people which is embodied in your theme for today â€œKnow your rights, use your rightsâ€
As friends of Uganda, I am sure that you are familiar with our journey as a people and a nation on the path to democratisation and development. It has not been an easy road for Uganda to travel by all means, but I believe that nothing that is truly worthwhile comes easily. There are sacrifices that we have to make to prepare for the future and the destiny we want for our children.
In the past Uganda went through the turmoil of the 60s that took us through the coup dâ€™Ã©tats, the terror of Idi Amin, the complete collapse of the economy and services. Uganda went through deaths and disappearance of heads of institutions and Government leaders that were commonplace in that time.
Ugandans know what it means to be exiled for years and wonder the world over, never knowing if they would ever see their home again. Ugandans are people who I believe know their rights simply because we have lived through a time in our history when everyone of those human rights was taken away.
Many of our people know about their human rights not just by reading about them, but in a very real and personal way. The prayer of Uganda must always be that, that dark part remains locked up in our history and that our generation and generations of Ugandans to come; strive to unite against all odds to ensure that no enemy can succeed to divide us again in order to create room for new suffering. We cannot afford to forget that the foundation of the Uganda we see today stands on the ashes of those who believed that Uganda was worth fighting and even dying for. Indeed countless thousands lost their lives. One only needs to visit Luweero to see that there are many unsung heroes in our liberation war. There are many whose heroic stands will never be known, their graves are not decorated with garlands. They received no awards or accolades, their names do not adorn our streets or squares. But they were in Luweero and this Uganda we have today is a testament to their ultimate sacrifice.
Today the scenario being played out on our streets brings a lot of trepidation to all who love Uganda. Looking at it from a spiritual perspective though I believe Uganda is being purified and my prayer is that we will all come out as pure as gold.
However, it will take learning humility and obeying established laws, and there are many examples that we can learn from on the world stage. Surely the human rights we talk about cannot have colours. I believe the human rights in Africa are human rights in Europe or the US. Therefore, we can learn from others if all of us are honestly talking about similar issues.
We will learn to realise that whether we are the Government or opposition we are Ugandans first and then our political affiliations come second. We must learn to live in this same space and respect our individual rights as well as our collective rights. Then we will create a peaceful environment that promotes the rule of law and real development.
We have come too far as a nation to succumb to the same ploys that took us to the ditches in the past. The National Resistance Movement was precisely founded to protect the rights of the people of Uganda.
Therefore, the Government will guard the peace and stability that we have enjoyed now for the last 24 years.
Everybodyâ€™s rights will only become meaningful if nobodyâ€™s rights get abused.
It is my hope that the EU and all our friends around the world who truly wish us well will recognise that they too have a role to play. In your partnership with this great country, it is of utmost importance that you see that as the institutions of Uganda are strengthened, the country is rooted and established on a solid footing. If our friends seek to be constructive partners they must work alongside the leaders in this country to build stronger institutions in order to protect and defend the rights of all the people of Uganda.
The Uganda Constitution is the beacon for our nation. We must take the time to educate our people about their individual rights as they are articulated in the Constitution. We must also teach our people the fundamental tenets of a nation governed by the rule of law. Ugandans must learn to respect due processes in the resolution of differences, then and only then will they trust the laws of the land and refrain from taking matters into their own hands.
It is only when we all realise that the interest of the country must rank higher than our individual interests that we will be united in our struggle for a better Uganda.
I know that we still have a long way to go as a country, but this does not negate the fact that we have come a long way. I trust that God continues to direct the destiny of this great country, our homeland and that He ensures that the future for Uganda is stable, peaceful and prosperous.
As long time friends of Uganda, I am confident that the EU will continue to play a constructive role with us as we seek to build a stronger nation. I thank you, for inviting us to your celebration and for this important discourse.
I congratulate you once again and wish you merry festivities. God bless you all. Thank you
Govt to guard peace, stability