The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao has justified the cooperation agreement he signed with the ruling National Resistance Movement Party (NRM) as the best idea for harmonizing Uganda’s political divide.
Mao, the President of the opposition Democratic Party (DP) was in July last year appointed to serve as a minister in the NRM-led government after a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two entities.
But Mao explains that although he hurled criticism at the NRM government in the past, he has since transformed and has been working towards harmonizing the country’s political divide.
Mao said whereas his critics saw less value in his contribution to the country, President Museveni valued him, a move that later culminated in a discussion on the agreement in 2021 for one full year.
Mao was on Saturday addressing hundreds of people who gathered at Kaunda Playgrounds in Gulu for his lavish homecoming celebration, a year after his controversial Ministerial appointment.
The celebration attracted government, NRM, DP, traditional and religious leaders among others from outside and within the Acholi Subregion.
Mao said that whereas he was in the opposition, he chose to work with the NRM-led government to learn closely from the ruling party and President Museveni who has held onto power longer than any other past president.
Mao wooed the locals in Acholi Subregion to trust him as a wiper of their tears since they are in ‘pain’ following the death of gallant sons of the region in the recent past which has left a leadership vacuum.
He pledged to resolve pertinent issues that had been affecting the Acholi people among them the Apaa land conflict between the residents of Amuru and Adjumani, and the persistent incursion of Karimojong rustlers.
Other issues of concern raised by the Kilak North legislator also Acholi Parliamentary Group Chairperson Anthony Akol at the event include the illegal purchase of land and land grabbing.
Mao also took the opportunity to clarify that he was still the DP party president and scoffed at those criticizing him equating them to grasshoppers trying to kick an elephant.
Fred Mukasa Mbidde, the DP Vice President told locals that the cooperation between the Democratic Party and the NRM is the best idea for Uganda at the moment since it can occasion development.
He said that their cooperation stands on four key grounds; the peaceful and democratic presidential transition, constitutional and electoral reforms, national reconciliation, and national dialogue which they have already started working on.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa said Mao’s agenda for the harmonization of the country’s already divided politics is a welcome idea that should be supported.
President Museveni in a message read out by the NRM Vice Chairperson Al-Hajji Moses Kigongo lauded Mao and the Uganda People’s Congress Party president Jimmy Akena for choosing cooperation rather than a negative attitude.
He however said sectarian politics had caused untold suffering to the people in Acholi for nearly 60 years and needed to be combatted for a better future of the country.
NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong however told the locals that Mao hadn’t crossed to the NRM party as it had been circulating. He said Mao only signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work with the Government of Uganda led by the NRM party.
“The NRM government works with different party members. Since 1986 when the NRM government took over power, DP members who started the party worked with the NRM government. Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere was a minister, and Ssebaana Kizito was also a minister in the NRM government along with many others, so why not Mao? Todwong questioned.
Today was an incredible day in Gulu city as we honored one of our esteemed national leaders, Honorable Norbert Mao (Akwaya) @norbertmao . His dedication to fostering unity in diversity is truly inspiring. Together, let's continue building a stronger, more prosperous Uganda!… pic.twitter.com/dJbRHUQ8uC
— Todwong Richard (@TodwongR) July 22, 2023
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