IN his NRM presidential candidate acceptance speech last weekend, President Museveni outlined a strong reform programme for the next five years.
His wide-ranging proposals ranged from fast-tracking the development of the East African Community to injecting 30 billion shillings into the mortgage industry.
However it was regrettable that his speech, presumably the basis of the NRM manifesto, did not mention bringing final peace and reconstruction to northern Uganda.
Of course, government has always been committed to rebuilding northern Uganda. Cynics have often falsely claimed that government, or army officers, have a vested interest in the continuation of the war in the north but they fail to explain why rebellion has been defeated elsewhere: in the Rwenzori, Teso, Lango, and West Nile. The persistence of the LRA insurgency in Acholiland had more to do with Konyâ€™s access to external bases and support than with any failure by the UPDF.
Government and donors have also poured funds into northern Uganda. The flagship vehicle has been the Northern Uganda Reconstruction Project but many local and foreign NGOs have also contributed.
Nevertheless Acholiland is still afflicted by extreme poverty and persistent insecurity. The few remaining LRA rebels may operate like isolated thugs but they are still disruptive. More than a million people still live in squalid conditions in the IDP camps. The social indicators for health and education remain worse than the rest of Uganda. The infrastructure of the area is sub-standard although some areas like Gulu have seen dramatic growth.
Many years of development have been missed in the north and particularly in Acholiland. This is not the fault of government but it remains governmentâ€™s responsibility to help the north and Acholiland to catch up.
It was unfortunate that bringing final peace and reconstruction to the north was omitted from Museveniâ€™s acceptance speech. It should certainly be included in his manifesto as NRM presidential candidate.
Speech should reflect North