Veteran politician Cecilia Atim Ogwal wants the bodies of former President Apollo Milton Obote and Army Chief of Staff, Major General David Oyite Ojok, exhumed and buried at Kololo heroes cemetery.
Ogwal, the Woman Member of Parliament for Dokolo District, says the government should consider exhuming the body of Dr. Obote from his country home in Akokoro village, Apac District for a reburial in Kololo, where another former president is buried.
Professor Yusuf Lule is the only former head of state to be buried at the Heroes Cemetery located on the western end of Kololo Airstrip, now called Independence grounds. Lule ruled Uganda for 68 days shortly after Idi Amin’s ouster in April 1979, but was removed after the National Consultative Council, the Parliament of the time, accused him of going against the ideals of the anti-Amin liberation front. He later teamed with Museveni to form the National Resistance Movement after the 1980 elections. He died and was buried in London in January 1985 but his remains were exhumed and reburied at Kololo a year later after Museveni came to power.
One other person buried at Kololo is Ignatius Kangave Musaazi, the founding president of the Uganda National Congress who died in 1990.
And now Ogwal, a former secretary general of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) but who later crossed to FDC party, wants former two-time President Obote to be reburied at Kololo. Obote died in October 2005 in South Africa after spending 20 years in exile in Zambia where he went after his second overthrow in 1985.
Ogwal says without Obote’s passionate struggle Uganda would not have attained Independent in 1962 and therefore there is need for government to place him among the heroes. She says Obote’s remains should have been the first to be buried at Kololo to tell the proper history of Uganda’s politics.
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The former UPC iron lady noted that heroism or national contribution has no colour and ideological arguments.
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On Major General Oyite Ojok, Ogwal says the army officer played a memorable role in the overthrow of Idi Amin in 1979, a contribution that qualifies him to be buried among the heroes.
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Oyite Ojok commanded the Kikosi Maalum, the biggest fighting group of the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) that over threw Amin with the support of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces. He died in a plane crash in Luweero while on a mission to support UNLA operations against the NRA rebels headed by current President Yoweri Museveni. He was buried in Loro, in the present day Oyam district.
Jimmy Akena, Lira Municipality MP and of Dr Obote, says it was his father’s will to be buried in Akokoro.
Akena described Ogwal’s idea as good but maintained that they cannot go against obote’s will.
Information and National Guidance Minister Mary Karoro Okurut advised Ogwal to put her request in writing or table it in parliament.
Obote was recently awarded the 50th Uganda Independence Medal for his contribution to Uganda, the same medal that was given to President Museveni and other former presidents except Amin. Ogwal was also a recipient of the same medal as was Vice President Edward Sekandi, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and former speakers of Parliament.
Hundreds of other Ugandans including religious leaders, businessmen, bankers and politicians also got the same medal.
In January 2010, Oyite Ojok was given a national medal for his role in fighting the Idi Amin dictatorship.