The saying that success has many fathers is playing out in two major communities of northern Uganda. Although the Karimojong spell the new Deputy Inspector General of Police’s name with a ‘t’ before the ‘ch’ while the Acholi write it without the additional letter, the two are referring to one and the same man, Major General Paul Loketch or Paul Lokech.
The Ugandan being claimed by Acholi and Karimojong replaces Major General Stephen Sabiti Muzeeyi who was dropped pending redeployment.
Now simultaneous celebrations are taking place in Acholi as well as Karamoja as both communities praise President Museveni for appointing their son to the powerful position in the national police force.
To the Karimojong, it is another recognition that they are part and parcel of Uganda while the Acholi have expressed a more broader national view, excited that their son will bring home glory by sorting out the tattered image of the national police force which has been stained by reports of human rights violations.
Betty Aumo, one of the mothers in Abim district which is believed to be Loketch’s home district, said that his appointment to manage police affairs was an indication that president Museveni was building trust in the people of Karamoja.
Peter Lote, a Karimojong elder, said it is extremely rare for the Karimojong to see their children in army being promoted to the sensitive positions.
“This current promotion now gives us some hope that President Museveni has realized that the promotion boat in army was not well balanced,” he said.
Joseph Mudong another elder and a resident in Napak district said the appointment of Major Gen. Loketch and a few others who are in big army positions like Gen Andrew Guti the chairman army general court martial, now makes them feel they are part of Uganda.
“We used to think we are not important in this country because whenever people are being promoted you read names are from elsewhere but now we are happy,” he said.
Mark Logiel, another elder, promised that they will shower President Museveni with votes now that he is recognising the Karimojong in the forces.”We are very happy with President Museveni and we are promising to pay him back with our votes,” Logiel said.
The elder advised Major Gen Loketch to handle his new post jealously and show hard work to represents the people of Karamoja well.
Equally in Gulu Cty, the appointment of Major General Paul Lokech as the new deputy Inspector General of Police has excited the Acholi Community.
Norman Okeny, a resident of Layibi in Gulu City describes Lokech as a selfless human rights defender who will make great changes on the Police face especially at the time when the force has come under the spotlight for Human Rights Violations.
Okeny says Lokech`s new appointment is timely given his experience in bringing peace in East Africa most famously in Somalia where he served as the head of contagion.
Bernard Otim, a resident of Tegwana in Gulu East, Gulu City, hopes that the appointment is not a trap for Maj Gen Lokech and the Acholi community citing General Kale Kaihura who was first praised for his service before he was trashed as a bean weevil (kawukuumi) by the appointing authority.
According to Otim, Maj Gen Lokech should ensure that he keeps his trend of not following orders which are degrading and violate human rights because Ugandans currently want their rights to be observed and not violated by the army especially ahead of the general elections.
Willy Chowoo, a journalist who is based in Gulu City says Lokech will help improve on the face of the police given his track record in fighting for human rights and peace especially in Somalia.
According to Chowoo, Lokech`s appointment is practicing the sharing of the National cakes in terms of appointment of top government officials which he says is not yet balanced.
Maj Gen Lokech till recently was Chief of Staff of Uganda People’s Defence Air Force –UPDAF. He previously served as part of the commanders of Uganda’s peace-keeping forces in South Sudan. The two-star General was part and parcel of Operation Safe Haven where UPDF went on the offensive against rebels of Allied Democratic Front-ADF who were being commanded by now incarcerated Jamil Mukulu.
Maj Gen Lokech also commanded the UPDF Second Division which is based in Mbarara at Makenke barracks. Other places where Maj Gen Lokech was deployed include Russia where he was Uganda’s Defense Attaché