Ugandans wrangle over Obote funeral

Ugandans wrangle over Obote funeral

KAMPALA – After days of wrangling, Uganda on Saturday finalised plans for a state funeral for late former president Milton Obote amid deep divisions between his supporters and the current government over his legacy.

As debate raged over whether to remember Obote as a national hero or notorious despot, Kampala announced that his body would arrive in Uganda tomorrow from Zambia where he had spent the last 20 years in exile. It will remain there for a day before lying in state at parliament before a national memorial service at Independence Square in the capital on Friday before touring several towns ahead of the actual funeral and burial at Akokoro in northern Uganda on Sunday, the government announced in a statement.It was released after days of tense negotiations between the government, Obote’s family and his Ugandan People’s Congress (UPC) opposition political party, officials and relatives said.Obote, Uganda’s first post-colonial prime minister and later twice-toppled president, died last Monday at age 80 in a Johannesburg hospital of apparent kidney failure, igniting a storm of conflicting reactions in his home nation.Many are mourning him as a leader in the fight for independence from Britain while others are rejoicing in the death of a strongarm ruler whose terms as president were marred by repression, conflict and the death of some 300 000 people.The UPC, which Obote ran from exile in Lusaka after being ousted as president for the second time in a 1985 coup led by Yoweri Museveni, had insisted over government objections for a ceremony at Independence Square, party officials said.And, also over government objections, Obote’s family, successfully fought for his body to tour the country before burial, according to relatives.Amid the controversy, Museveni’s government, which agreed to a state funeral for Obote only two days after his death had earlier taken pains to point out efforts it was making to honour him with the dignity due to an ex-president.- Nampa-AFPIt will remain there for a day before lying in state at parliament before a national memorial service at Independence Square in the capital on Friday before touring several towns ahead of the actual funeral and burial at Akokoro in northern Uganda on Sunday, the government announced in a statement.It was released after days of tense negotiations between the government, Obote’s family and his Ugandan People’s Congress (UPC) opposition political party, officials and relatives said.Obote, Uganda’s first post-colonial prime minister and later twice-toppled president, died last Monday at age 80 in a Johannesburg hospital of apparent kidney failure, igniting a storm of conflicting reactions in his home nation.Many are mourning him as a leader in the fight for independence from Britain while others are rejoicing in the death of a strongarm ruler whose terms as president were marred by repression, conflict and the death of some 300 000 people.The UPC, which Obote ran from exile in Lusaka after being ousted as president for the second time in a 1985 coup led by Yoweri Museveni, had insisted over government objections for a ceremony at Independence Square, party officials said.And, also over government objections, Obote’s family, successfully fought for his body to tour the country before burial, according to relatives.Amid the controversy, Museveni’s government, which agreed to a state funeral for Obote only two days after his death had earlier taken pains to point out efforts it was making to honour him with the dignity due to an ex-president.- Nampa-AFP

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