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Acholi Divided Over Museveni's Invite to Cultural Festival

Those opposed to Museveni as chief guest fear that his presence at the three-day event will politicise the ceremony and make it difficult for them to engage in meaningful deliberations for the development of their region.
Prime Minister of Acholi Ambrose Olaa Justifying Inviting President Museveni On Monday

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There is a sharp disagreement among the subjects of Acholi Cultural Institution whether or not President Yoweri Museveni should preside over their inaugural cultural festival slated for this week. 

Those opposed to Museveni as chief guest fear that his presence at the three-day event will politicise the ceremony and make it difficult for them to engage in meaningful deliberations for the development of their region.

They have vehemently opposed the decision of the organisers to invite President Museveni through various social media platforms. Their arguments have attracted lots of public attention and support with many saying they will shun the event should the organisers insist on hosting the president as chief guest.

Top among those opposed to the choice of chief guest include human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo who hails from Atiak in Amuru district and former Gulu University guild president, Christopher Okidi. 

The two are mobilising the subjects of the Acholi Cultural Institution-- Ker Kwaro Acholi-- to resist the invitation of President Museveni as chief guest at the festival.

Some of their followers say Museveni's bush war left a trail of destruction in Acholi and that his government has had an upper hand in some of the worst evils that have bedeviled the sub region since he ascended to the Presidency 31 years ago. 

However, organisers of the festival say they have invited President Museveni for strategic reasons to place Acholi culture and heritage firmly onto the national development pathway.

Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, says discussing the invitation of President Museveni is diversionary.

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Olaa says the festival was born out of Acholi Leaders' Retreat held in February at Comboni Samaritans in Gulu. The retreat agreed to create mechanisms for consolidating Acholi issues in a document for public discussions, mechanism for celebrating the heritage of the Acholi people and mechanism of resolving disputes.

Julius Labeja, the Festival Coordinator, says the event will take place at Kaunda Grounds, Pece War Memorial and at the Palace of the Paramount Chief in Bar Dege Division in Gulu Municipality. 

According to Labeja, 1,000 people from the eight districts making up Acholi sub region are expected to participate in the festival. Others are expected to come from Acholi communities in Kenya and South Sudan.

Olaa says there will be display of Acholi music, artifacts, cuisines and cultural clothing among others.

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Big companies such as Africel, Horyal Holdings and Uganda Breweries Limited have thrown their weight behind the festival and donated millions of Shillings towards the event whose budget was slashed from Shillings 400 million to about Shillings 150 million.

Last year, President Museveni officiated at the launch of Imbalu cultural ceremony in Mbale district. He positioned the ceremony as a product of tourism.

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