THE Uganda Peopleâ€™s Congressâ€™s (UPC) 2011 Presidential candidate Dr. Olara Otunnu was born in Chua County, Kitgum district and received his early education at Mucwini and Anaka primary schools. He got his secondary education at Gulu High School and Kingâ€™s College Budo.
He then attended Makerere University (where he was President of the studentsâ€™ Guild), Oxford University and Harvard Law School.
A lawyer by training, he was an Associate with the law firm of Chadbourne and Parke in New York, prior to becoming Assistant Professor of Law at Albany Law School.
In the 1970s, as Makerere guild president and later as Secretary-General of Uganda Freedom Union, Otunnu played a leading role in the resistance against Idi Amin.
At the Moshi Conference, Otunnu was elected as a member of the National Consultative Council, the interim administration after Amin.
He was the minister for Foreign Affairs in 1985-86, during which time he played a prominent role in the Uganda peace talks between NRA rebels and the Uganda government in December 1985.
From 1980 to 1985, he served as Ugandaâ€˜s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. During his tenure at the UN, he played an active role, providing leadership in key roles, including President of the Security Council (1981), when he broke the deadlock over the election of the Secretary-General.
From 1998 to 2005, Otunnu served as the UN Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
Otunnu has received the German Africa Prize (2002); the Sydney Peace Prize (2005); and the Distinguished Service Award, awarded by the United Nations Association of USA in New York (2001).
Those close to him talk of him as a very shrewd creative politician who never runs of surprises. Many analysts believe that given his oratory skills and broad knowledge on policies, Otunnu can put up a very competitive show.
He however faces the big challenge of riding his captivating political ideas on the UPC vehicle which has a tainted past and which for that matter is seen as a bad omen in several parts of Uganda especially the central region.
Immediately he assumed the leadership of UPC early this year, in what has been regarded as an attempt to rewrite history, Otunnu launched a continuous demand for a commission of inquiry into the Luwero massacres in which he said a massive trail of the blood of the people of Luwero leads to Museveniâ€™s doorsteps.
The former UN diplomat earned political capital when he successfully defied the Police summons and got immunity from court over charges of sectarianism and sedition, arising from his hostile remarks against President Museveni. Many analysts say he would have done wonders had he not sailed on ticket of a party with a tainted past.
Calling it a Museveni-controlled commission, Otunnu had repeatedly said he would not participate in the 2011 presidential contest as long as Dr. Badru Kiggundu led the Electoral Commission. But he failed to keep his word and picked the nomination forms when the status quo had not changed.
He repeatedly echoes reconciliation as his key message the very reason he was recently compelled to ask for a meeting with Yoweri Museveni and other political leaders to jointly discuss key concerns about the 2011 elections, although his request was not granted.
And that is why whenever is going to make a special national address, he usually first sings the tukutendereza, the stanza of the great East African Revival, which was centred on the message of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Olara Otunnu makes a U-turn to hold UPC flag