The week in focus: In death as in life Oulanyah unites Uganda, DR Congo signs accession agreement into EA community, legendary PanAfricanist Thomas Sankara ghost returns to haunt Compaore 35 years since his assassination, South Sudan moves closer to unified army

Following 18 days of funeral ceremonies, the former Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah was on Friday last week laid to rest at his ancestral home in Omollo District in the Northern part of Uganda. Oulanyah died in Seattle US on March 20, following cancer complications. 

Several fraternities held vigils in different places, eulogizing the former Speaker as a unifying factor in the country. Following the return of his body on Friday April 1, Parliament held a vigil on Tuesday at which all MPs paid tribute to the fallen Speaker. Opposition and government leaning MPs were all in unison saying Oulanyah who had previously served as Deputy Speaker for 10 years from 2011, had displayed exceptional leadership qualities, an attribute, they say endeared him to all Ugandans regardless of their political or ethnic inclination. 

During the state funeral last Wednesday, President Yoweri Museveni mourned former Speaker of Parliament Rt Hon. Jacob Oulanyah in Kololo, acknowledging his success in uniting the greater Northern Uganda. Museveni said despite dying young, Oulanyah made his mark in nation building. “He was young, but he had already made impact; we in NRM first dealt with him when he was in the Legal Committee of Parliament; he was able to. Losing Oulanyah now was a big loss; he was somebody who was coming up and the country was going to benefit a lot from him,” he said, adding that bringing together people from the different sub-regions of the greater northern Uganda had proved a difficult task for the NRM and past governments alike because of the ethnic divisions that had been created during the past junta regimes. 

He however acknowledged that Oulanyah died having fulfilled what many had failed to do. 

Last week the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) formally joined the East African Community (EAC) after the signing of the Treaty of the Accession of the DRC into the EAC in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The Chairperson of the Summit of EAC Heads of State, H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta, signed the Treaty of Accession with the President of DRC, H.E. Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, at State House, Nairobi. 

Also present at the ceremony were Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame. 

DRC now has up to 29th September, 2022 to undertake internal and constitutional processes to ratify the Treaty and deposit the instruments of ratification with the Secretary General. 

Meanwhile President Museveni and his counterpart from Rwanda, President Paul Kagame last week met and held talks at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before the Ceremony of the Treaty of Accession ceremony. The two leaders have been speaking virtually and through emissaries to resolve the misunderstandings between their two countries. Earlier this year, President Kagame reopened the Katuna border between Uganda and Rwanda after a 2 year closure. Rwanda was protesting alleged maltreatment of its citizens in Uganda. The meeting between the two leaders in Nairobi sparked social media excitement. Citizens from Rwanda and Uganda enjoy close cultural and economic relations. 

In West Africa, after a 35-year of wait, the military court in Burkina Faso has found Ex-President, Blaise Compaoré guilty of Thomas Sankara’s murder. Blaise Compaoré was found guilty of the assassination of Sankara in the 1987 d’état alongside six convicts. Compaoré, then second in command, and a best friend of Sankara was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by the court after a six-month trial.

Two other convicts were also sent to life imprisonment. The two are Gilbert Diendéré, and Hyacinthe Kafando, leader of Compaoré’s guards at the time.

Captain Thomas Sankara was the president of Burkina Faso between 1983 to 1987. He was murdered in the 1987 d’état with 12 other people.

Sankara was just 37 years old when he died at the hand of his best friend and comrade-in-arms after four years as president.

The duo had jointly seized power in 1983. Sankara was killed for his ideas of wanting to liberate his people from poverty, diseases, and slavery.

Sankara renamed his country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, meaning “the land of the upright”.

The Joint Security Mechanisms in South Sudan have welcomed the decision of President Salva Kiir to unify the command structure of the organized forces. The top military generals include, the SSPDF-CDF, 1st Lt. Gen. Santino Deng Wol, SPLA-IO, Acting Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen Gabriel Duop Lam and Lt. Gen Julius Tabule Daniel of SSOA.

The mechanisms include National Transitional Committee, Joint Defense Board and Reconstituted joint monitoring and verification commission among others.

On Sunday, the peace parties signed a deal that ended a stalemate over the command structure of the unified forces.

According to the deal, the power sharing in the unified army gives the incumbent government under SPLM-IG 60% and the other two armed groups 40%.

This will be exercised in the context of six security sector arrangements like the army, police, internal security, external security, Wildlife and Prison Service.

In a joint press briefing at the Army General Headquarters in Bilpham today the SSPDF CDF, acting Chief of Genera Staff SPLA-IO and a representative from SSOA welcomed the unification of the command.

Lt. Gen. Thoi Chany who readout the joint press statement welcomed the efforts by the presidency to unify the command structure.

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