Some of the members of Parliament from Acholi

Members of Parliament from Acholi Sub-region have demanded government to explain the cause of the death of Jacob Oulanyah, the Speaker of the 11th Parliament, before any burial arrangements are made.

The MPs say they suspect foul play in  Oulanyah’s death. A number of them yesterday said their doubts must be cleared or else they will not allow a state burial.

Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak South County MP in Amuru District, told journalists at Parliament that Oulanyah’s death raises eyebrows.

“Our brother Jacob died at a tender age. Right now, we from Acholi are not happy. We are asking what is happening in this regime. We are asking ourselves what is unique in this government that whenever an Acholi rises to a higher position, the person will never serve for more than two years.  We need an answer from the government. The government of Uganda must come out very clearly before burial of our son to explain what is going on with the leaders from Acholi,” he said.

The outcry by Acholi MPs comes after Nathan Okori, the father of Oulanyah, told the mourners at his home in Omoro that his son did not die of natural causes.

“I know all of you who have come here are mourners. His (Oulanyah’s) death is not easy news to welcome because I know he did not die of natural causes, he was poisoned,” he said on Sunday.

He did not say who may have planned his son’s death or why.

Okori told the mourners that Oulanyah had revealed the cause of his illness, which suddenly began manifesting after he became Speaker.

Olanya mentioned Maj Gen Julius Oketta, Maj Gen Paul Lokech, and Col Walter Ochora among some of the Acholi leaders who have died mysteriously.

“Right now as Acholi, we are retreating back to the village and seeking answers…,” he added.

Another female MP on the ruling NRM ticket who did not want to be named for fear of reappraisal, said they are getting increasingly worried of what is happening.

“Why is it that it is only our people who are in positions of influence dying? We have seen many of our sons from Acholi die and government always says it is a blood clot, is blood clot only reserved for the Acholi big men?’’ the legislator questioned.

Quest for unity

Ojara Mapenduzi, the Member of Parliament for MP Gulu West (Bardege-Layibi Division) in Gulu City, said Oulanyah was a committed leader who preached unity across political and regional divide. 

He said although it is not time to apportion blame, a thorough medical report and an account by people who travelled to visit the late Oulanyah in the US must be presented to the people of Acholi before drawing conclusions.

“We are obviously filled with pain that we have lost so many prominent leaders from Acholi Sub-region, but I don’t think this is the right time to start making statements that are not justifiable. I think we need to be sober. We expect the medical report explaining in detail the cause of his death,” he said. 

Margaret Lamwaka, the MP for Chwa East Constituency, said the death of Oulanyah is the greatest blow to the people of Acholi. 

“When we elected him the Speaker, we knew we had elected the right person. Oulanyah was hard working and committed and he united everybody,” she said.

Lamwaka asked those whom Oulanyah might have offended to forgive him.

“Oulanyah stood up against corruption even before the President. Oulanyah would be humiliated everywhere he went, but would pay it with a smile. I appeal to all people who felt offended by him to forgive him. We, on his behalf, also forgive all those who offended him while he was alive,”  Lamwaka said.

Anthony Akol, the Kilak North MP, said the Acholi Parliamentary Group will issue a statement about Oulanyah’s death and burial programmes today.

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