THE recent statement by former UN Under Secretary for children in conflict zones, Mr. Olara Otunnu that President Yoweri Museveni has for the past 20 years â€œusedâ€ Joseph Kony and the LRA to commit genocide in Acholi is just a whistle in the reeds.
His allegations of genocide are not new and it is as well Otunnu now says Museveni and Kony have been working jointly to â€œwipe outâ€ the Acholi yet he initially denied Konyâ€™s existence.
Sociology professor turned politician, Tarsis Kabwegyere in his article this week diagnosed that Otunnu suffers from â€œethnic psychosisâ€ and in need of help. But people like Paul Ssemogerere, Kizza Besigye, Mugisha Muntu, and Winnie Byanyima have also made these awful allegations about conflicts in northern and eastern Uganda when it suited them politically.
During the last campaigns, Besigye and Muntu, former NPC, and army commander respectively, presented this conflict as if it were new which they didnâ€™t leave behind when still in government. In my opinion these allegations are by failed political opportunists who think that all Ugandans suffer from very acute memory lapse of our most recent history as a country rising from state destruction. Matters have not been helped by their admirers, especially in the media who have struggled to polish their otherwise tainted political images.
But objective analysts must be wondering how these â€˜heroesâ€™ have joined in public deception and exaggerations without much shame. We have sufficiently dealt with Besigye and Muntu as past stooges, but as for Otunnu there is an explanation that fits his life story as a consummate opportunist who consistently put his ambition, career, and personal status ahead of Ugandaâ€™s best interests. From his early days as Makerere University guild president to his most recent acquiescence to the UN corrupt system, Otunnu failed to stand up against actions that were immoral, unethical, anti-democratic or reckless, and protected his career at every turn. Otunnuâ€™s public oratory, and the fact that he became a prominent and successful Acholi during national decline has protected his true record from any clear-eyed assessment even when he has defended three primitive wars â€” UPC II, Okellosâ€™ Military Junta, and now two decades of terrorism in Acholiland.
When Otunnu fled Idi Aminâ€™s regime in the 70s he chose to hide in Europe and later North America while seeking civil career to exploit later, and not the trenches in Tanzania against the regime, which many of his agemates chose. Upon Aminâ€™s defeat, and the 1980 fraudulent elections that installed the Obote II regime, Otunnu returned, and used Acholi tribal connections to become Ugandaâ€™s â€œPermanent Representativeâ€ to the UN.
For four and a half years Otunnu laboriously promoted and defended a fascist regime back home, which committed wanton arson, rape, robberies, plunder, torture, imprisonment without trial, economic pillage, and extra-judicial killings even beyond the so-called â€œLuwero Triangleâ€. Perhaps there is no district in Uganda except in Acholi and Lango sub-region where fanatics in UPC and UNLA did not plunder, rape, rob, torture, and kill or perpetuate politically motivated crimes with impunity, yet Otunnuâ€™s eloquence as a champion of human rights was noticed by its absence. You Otunnu did not speak out when your tribesman Opiyo Oloya, the prolific New Vision columnist from Toronto was hounded out of Makerere university guild elections by the UPC government, and he fled to his present exile.
Oloya has, for convenience, chosen not to write anything about how he left Uganda, and one is forced to accept the â€œethnic psychosisâ€ Kabwegyere wrote about. When Acholi renegades in UNLA led by Gen Tito Okello Lutwa, and Bazillio Olara Okello toppled Oboteâ€™s â€œelected,â€ multiparty government on July 27, 1985, Otunnu immediately flew back from the UN where he was an ambassador to become the juntaâ€™s chief diplomat as Foreign Affairs minister alongside DPâ€™s amiable Ssemogerere for Internal affairs!
On December 27, 1985, after the signing of the Nairobi Peace Accord between the Okello junta, and Yoweri Museveniâ€™s NRA/M Otunnu and Ssemogerere granted an interview to the Lagos-based Africa Today magazine. When asked why, in spite of the Peace Accord, government soldiers (UNLA) were still killing people in Luwero and Kampala, Otunnu and Ssemogere chorused, â€œIt is the people provoking the army.â€ Otunnuâ€™s bitterness can be understood because during the Nairobi talks he made it abundantly and loudly clear that his illiterate Acholi generals would turn over the presidency to him.
When some of the NRA/M delegates told him to move cautiously since he was still young, and that the NRM could triumph in the long run, Otunnu just rubbished them, and he is now paying. As an opportunist, and a protÃ©gÃ© to former UN Secretary General Dr Butros Butros Ghali in 1996, Otunnu begged Ugandaâ€™s then ambassador to the UN, Perez Kamunanwire to take him to Museveni to seek support against Kofi Annan in the battle to replace Ghali. Otunnuâ€™s lobby antics actually took him up to Abuja where Museveni was on a state visit. But when Otunnu couldnâ€™t succeed with Museveni, he shamelessly circulated copies of his photographs while greeting Museveni during an earlier UN conference in New York as possible proof that Museveni had endorsed him. And when this diabolism failed, Otunnu sought Ivory Coast citizenship, which he tried to use to compete against Anan but again collapsed, as his name could not make it to the ballot.
Four volumes of bush diaries got from former Konyâ€™s chief catechist Abong Papa who UPDF captured in June 2006, show that Otunnu visited and met Kony in Sudan in December 1999 at the time Sudan and Uganda were negotiating peace in Kenya. Yet even as UN chief for children in conflict zones, Otunnu never came to Uganda for an on-the-spot assessment, and that is Otunnu who only a corrupt UN system can take seriously.
Otunnu is a failed political opportunist!