by Norman Miwambo, the Observer
London – The First Lady, Janet Museveni’s presentation, backed by a video documentary detailing government’s efforts to uplift the standards of living in the Karamoja sub-region, earned her kudos at the recent Uganda UK Convention.
Mrs Museveni, the minister in charge of Karamoja, and Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, were among the keynote speakers at the annual gathering of Ugandans living the UK, September 15.
However, organisers spent a bit of money on security at the venue in London to ensure that a planned demonstration against the First Lady’s presence did not interrupt the convention. Private security guards ensured that a group of protesters, comprising mainly opposition and human rights activists, did not come close to the First Lady.
“Her presentation was very good because it clearly explained to us what is being done on the ground and what needs to be done,” said one participant, Joseph Kigozi.
Several metres away from convention venue, protesters who carried placards denouncing the NRM government on grounds of a poor human rights record and other abuses, blew whistles and chanted slogans, but were denied access.
“I don’t think it’s been a failure [the demonstration], because the message has been delivered,” said Dr Rashid Kasaato, one of the organizers of the protests.
Kasaato claimed that Mrs Museveni was sneaked in and whisked away through the exit door, but organizers deny this. Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka as well as officials from the immigration directorate, Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority and Uganda Wildlife Authority also made presentations.
Vice President Edward Ssekandi and the Kampala Capital City Authority executive director, Jennifer Musisi, had been expected to attend, but sent regrets. Willy Mutenza Nsubuga, the chairman of the convention’s organizing team, said they had achieved their objective of promoting Uganda abroad and encouraging citizens to invest back home. He dismissed the protesters as “a few isolated and confused people who are looking for publicity”.
Nsubuga said the convention is as popular among most Ugandans as proven by the fact that this year’s event was fully sold out.