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Church calls for unity as Oulanyah starts final journey

Northern Uganda Bishop Godfrey Loum has appealed to Ugandans to embrace forgiveness and remain united as the country mourns the fallen Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah. He made the appeal yesterday at Entebbe International Airport where the government and family received the body of the Speaker, who died on March 20.



“He was a man of peace, and, as we lay him to rest, we must emulate him. We should be peaceful as we mourn our fallen brother. Death is very painful and nobody can get used to death. When death like this one occurs, people struggle with coming to terms with reality,” he told Saturday Monitor.

He added: “And many times people say things that they wouldn’t say. And sometimes what they say they don’t actually mean it.”









Oulanyah, 56, died at the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle, United States of America, where he was rushed in February to get specialised cancer care.

The appeal by Bishop Loum comes amid confusion on the actual cause of his death.

Whereas government has linked his death to cancer, his father, Mr Nathan Okori, claimed his son was poisoned. The post-mortem report from the American hospital has not yet been released.








Protests

The illness and death of Oulanyah have seen protests from a section of Ugandans, specifically regarding the Shs1.7b government spent to charter a plane which took him to the US.

The plans to spend Shs2.5b on his burial, which was eventually whittled down to Shs1.2b, also precipitated another round of public protests.



On Thursday, Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny–Dollo accompanied by former Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) president Olara Otunnu and religious leaders went to Bulange, Mengo to officially apologise to Buganda Kingdom for the statements he made last week.



The government’s chief judge alleged that the Kabaka of Buganda was taken to Germany in a presidential jet in 2021, something the Buganda Kingdom came out to refute.

The Katikkiro (prime minister) of Buganda, Mr Charles Peter Mayiga, commended the Chief Justice for the apology and urged all Ugandans to leave what was said behind.









Justice Owiny-Dollo had made the allegations at Oulanyah’s home in Muyenga, Kampala, citing protests some Ugandans in America held against the move by the government to spend Shs1.7b to airlift the stricken Speaker to Seattle for medical care.

The protesters were appealing to the government to improve health services in Uganda to minimise spending on medical tourism, a reasoning Information minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi challenged last week.



Dr Baryomunsi said referring a patient to a higher facility whether within the country or outside is unavoidable in the medical profession because a particular health facility may not have everything.

Bishop Loum said: “We are praying that the ministry will give us that spirit of calmness that we will mourn our brother in peace and we will send him to rest with all dignity.”




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