I took a 3 day trip to Karamoja for a meeting last week. This was my second time in the region that most Ugandans know so little about. Most of our images on Karamoja are based on many stereotypes and myths. There’s now relative peace in Karamoja after disarmament process but much of the area still needs a lot support in order to develop- not forgetting making sure Karimojong people benefit from the gold and marble mined in the area.
Not many seem to know where the gold goes. There’s been a constant American soldiers presence in the area for some years that is unexplained. This is a region with great potential and beauty that has been mostly locked out by our governments.
I had spent two nights -one in Nairobi and another in Bangkok thanks to Kenya Airways great service. So I arrived in Yangon whn over 200 Young Global Leaders had already immersed themselves in great discussion and I had to catch up.
1: Learning about Turkey in Myanmar
On my second day in Myanmar we visited a training institute for young leaders to discuss public leadership. One of the great presentations came from Turkey. We were at an organization called Egress to exchange ideas on democracy and transitions. So I learnt that though Turkey has had free and fair elections, ethnic disputes and separatism have not gone away. Our presenter Umit left a couple of points for our hosts and I.
Transition doesn’t mean immediate consolidation with a few exceptions.
Elected governments are not necessarily much more liberal than military governments
Having elections and changing a constitution are not enough: authoritarianism may be in the society’s DNA so people might have gotten too used to it. There’s need for more work after those two processes.
Democracy and human rights do not often rank very high on the voters priority list.
I found these lessons not only relevant for Myanmar but also applied much to Uganda. I was amazed by the Myanmar youth who shared with us what they thought their government should make priority. Peace and security was high followed by education and political inclusiveness. Continue reading “Seven days in Myanmar”→