President Museveni at the weekend said he would have worked well with the government of former president Gen Tito Okello Lutwa if he [Lutwa] had not been misled by people he described as bad ‘advisers’.
“When Gen Lutwa took power on July 27 1985, I was in Sweden. I spoke with him directly on telephone. We could have really moved along together but he was misled by a group of bad advisers,” Mr Museveni said.
The President made the remarks while speaking at a service held in memory of Gen Lutwa and his wife Ms Esther Adye Okello at Lapana village, Namukora sub-county in Kitgum District.
The service was attended by residents, ministers and foreign dignitaries.
Mr Museveni, however, praised Gen Lutwa describing him as person who loved consensus to bring harmony among his countrymen.
“It was easy for me to link up with Gen Lutwa because he was good. We had no ‘differences. My family and his were neighbours in Upanga, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and we lived peacefully,” Mr Museveni said.
He added that because of Gen Lutwa’s humble background, he found it easy to persuade him to return to Uganda in 1993 after spending seven years of exile in Tanzania and Kenya.
Mr Museveni also applauded the former president’s son, Foreign Affairs Minister Henry Okello Oryem, for ‘resurrecting’ his father’s legacy in Lapana village, saying: “if you had been a drunkard, this entire crowd gathered here wouldn’t have come to pay respect to Gen Lutwa.”
President Museveni through his then guerilla group National Resistance Army [NRA] toppled Gen Lutwa’s Uganda National Liberation Army [UNLA] government on January 26, 1986, following failed peace negotiation held in Nairobi in 1985.
Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali who was the main celebrant said Gen Lutwa was a great Acholi who strongly contributed to the growth and development of Uganda.
“Today is not a day for mourning or crying but rather a day to celebrate Gen Lutwa‘s legacy. He was a humble but brave soldier who rose from junior ranks to presidency,” Archbishop Ntagali said.
Dr Martin Aliker, an influential businessman and a colleague of the late Gen Lutwa, said the former president was never interested in war.
“Gen Lutwa was a soldier trained to kill but he had a kind heart. When he felt threatened, he decided to flee the country,” Dr Aliker said.
Gen Lutwa succumbed to colon cancer on June 3, 1996 while widow Esther Okello died in a car accident in March 2002 in Kitgum District.