The former United Nations Undersecretary- General, Dr. Olara Otunnu has today returned to Uganda after spending 23 years in exile in the United States of America. Otunnu ran to exile in 1986 after President Museveni and his National Resistance Army over threw the then government of the fallen President of Uganda, Tito Okello Lutwa.
He is the President of LBL Foundation for Children, a New York-based independent international organization devoted to promoting protection, hope, healing and education for children in communities devastated by war. From the Ugandan capital, Kampala, the former diplomat told VOA that he was excited to be home. “Obviously it is a joyful occasion. I am simply overwhelmed – being on Ugandan soil again, with Ugandan people”. He added that he was moved and humbled by the welcome he received.
Otunnu said he was met by a small group of elders at the airport because the police did not allow in many people. He later met the rest of the people at a nearby hotel.
“From the little I have seen so far, Entebbe hasn’t changed that much; I am now in Kampala where I see that the hills surrounding the city are dotted with more buildings and construction but otherwise I can recognize what I see, it is very familiar terrain”, said Otunnu who hails from Kitgum district in Northern Uganda.
He said he travelled to Uganda without a Ugandan passport but hopes to get one now that he is in Uganda where people are demanding that his rights be respected. “I have not had a Ugandan passport for the last 23 years. However, I did come with passport application forms, already filled out, and I handed them to the authorities at Entebbe [airport].
Otunnu said he is in Uganda where he will tour various parts of the country to meet people, to listen and to learn. “I am eager to work with fellow Ugandans who are yearning for change, who want to take back their country, a country which has been hijacked by little tiny cliques”.
Asked about his security, he said it is the responsibility of the president [Yoweri Museveni] to ensure security for all Ugandans. “I am entrusting my security to him and I hope he will assume his responsibility in that regard”.