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Queen Praises Country for War On Aids and Somali Mission
Kampala, November 23, 2007 – Queen Elizabeth on Thursday congratulated Uganda for the country's fight against HIV/Aids, its support of peacekeeping in Somalia and the government's efforts to resolve the conflict in the north peacefully.
Queen Elizabeth addresses the Ugandan Parliament, in Kampala, yesterday. At left is her husband Prince Philip. At right is the Speaker of the Uganda Parliament, Mr Edward Ssekandi. Photo/Uganda Presidential Press unit.
In a speech to parliament, she said Uganda has recaptured the optimism that was present during her last visit here 53 years ago.
Her short speech congratulated Uganda in many ways, but mainly on the country's fight against HIV/Aids and its support of peacekeeping in Somalia.
The Queen also reminded the many MPs, diplomats, religious and traditional leaders and other invited guests of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's often-quoted reference to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa.
"He had been struck by how Uganda had been truly gifted by nature," she said. "The United Kingdom remains a committed friend of Uganda," she said.
The Queen said that, in comparing her current visit to the one the Royal couple made in 1954, she and her husband enjoyed their first tour of Uganda.
The queen said: "In the years since Prince Phillip and I were last here, there has been one significant change." She added that the introduction of HIV/Aids was one thing that has greatly effected Uganda and many other countries.
"We have many fond memories of our last visit to Uganda," she said.
During that visit, eight years before independence, Uganda was a land of great optimism. It was thought that the region, with plenty of natural resources and a lush landscape, could well become a dominant economy and society in East Africa.
Such thoughts were derailed, however, in the years after independence when military rule and civil war ruined much of the country's infrastructure.
The theme of renewal has dominated much of the debate over what impact hosting the Commonwealth meeting will have on Uganda.
Leaders see it as an opportunity to show the world that Uganda can be known for more than Idi Amin and a long-standing civil war in northern Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni followed the Queen with a speech of his own, one that he quickly promised the audience would not last as long as his speeches often do.
"Don't get worried that I will give a long speech today," he said, to much laughter. 'Your Majesty, you are most welcome to the Parliament of Uganda," he said.
President Museveni gave a brief history of Uganda's democratic evolution, pointing out that the democratic 'experiment" lasted only four years before the country descended into a constitutional crisis in 1966.
He added that the situation worsened when Idi Amin took power in 1971, which was a point when Uganda "went from the frying pan into the fire."
Though Mr Museveni spent more time than the Queen discussing the challenging years (the Queen made only a passing reference to the difficult period), he lauded the current state of affairs.
"Our constitution is among the most democratic constitutions in the world," Mr Museveni said.
At that point in the speech, and at several other times, government MPs exploded in cheers, applause and seat-slapping. At such times, opposition MPs remained mostly silent.
Mr Museveni concluded his speech by taking a bow, which also elicited much laughter and cheers from government MPs. The Queen remained expressionless, but dignified, during much of Museveni's speech.
The Duke, on the other hand, smiled at several points during the president's speech such as when Mr Museveni promised his speech would be short.
Source: The Nation