President mourns Tiberio Okeny Atwoma, says technical school to be erected in his memory

Thursday 25th October 2012

President Yoweri Museveni has mourned veteran politician, Tiberio Okeny Atwoma, describing him as a freedom fighter and a nationalist who stood by the truth. He noted that the late Okeny Atwoma who cherished and spoke the truth was indeed a freedom fighter and a nationalist as he relentlessly fought for the unity of the people of Uganda.

The President was yesterday the chief mourner at the burial of the late Okeny Atwoma that took place yesterday at the deceased’s home in Oryang, Amida Sub-County, Kitgum district in the Acholi Sub-Region. Okeny Atwoma, who was born in 1925, breathed his last in Lacor Hospital in Gulu Municipality last week. He joined DP in 1959 which he quit in 1984 after unsuccessfully contesting against Paul Kawanga Semwogerere for Party Presidency. He subsequently formed his own party – the National Liberal Party – but it failed to take off. He was a member of the Constituency Assembly from 1994 – 1995 that came up with the 1995 Constitution.

Hundreds of mourners from the Acholi sub-region and beyond attended the burial that was led by His Grace John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese assisted by several religious leaders. Others included Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, traditional leaders, several Cabinet Ministers, MPs, as well as opposition leaders Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party and UPC’s Olara Otunnu.

President Museveni told hundreds of mourners that the first time he met the late Okeny Atwoma was in 1980 along with Mzee Boniface Byanyima when he Mr. Museveni tried in vain to convince the two DP strongmen to add more value to the Party and give it a new image by naming it the National Democratic Party. The second time, he added, was during the time Tiberio Okeny Atwoma worked tirelessly to convince LRA to come out of the bush.

President Museveni, at this juncture, expressed his support for the call by the DP leader to reinvigorate the Inter-Party Forum that Mr. Museveni initiated in 2006 to discuss national issues. He reminded mourners and the whole country that the National Resistance Movement (NRM) had formed the Inter-Party Forum in 2006 but some Party leaders, like Kiiza Besigye, boycotted it.

The President expressed his profound apology to the people of the Acholi Sub-Region for the mistakes committed by the then National Resistance Army (NRA),  such as the arrest of elders including the late Tiberio Okeny Atwoma, the late Andrew Adimola and others as well as the death of innocent wanainchi in Burcoro and Namukora. He explained that the act was committed by bad individuals in the group of the late Andrew Kayiira. He, however, assured the people of Uganda that such mistakes will never re-occur.

Mr. Museveni explained that when he got information that Okeny Atwoma had fallen sick, he sent his personal doctor to help him adding that he decided to accord a state burial because he fought for peace in Northern Uganda and also immensely in Parliament during the time of the Constituent Assembly. He informed mourners that though Parliament was in recess, the House had to be recalled to accord the late Tiberio Okeny a befitting send off.

The President told mourners that the government is going to construct a technical school in Kitgum district in memory of the late Okeny Atwoma.

Earlier, Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, on behalf of the August House, thanked President Museveni for according the late Okeny Atwoma a State Funeral. He said the President’s correct vision for the country has gone a long way in the stabilization of the country. He called on all Ugandans never again to subject the country to chaos.

State Minister for International Affairs, Mr. Henry Okello Oryem, hailed the NRM government for the freedom of expression that the people of Uganda enjoy as manifested at the burial with the leaders of the opposition, Norbert Mao and Olara Otunnu expressing their views freely something that was not possible during the time of the past governments.

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