Roaming Balaalo Must Leave Northern Uganda And West Nile- President Museveni

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has spent some quality time with the wanaichi in the Northern disyrict of Amuru to have deeper understanding of the Balaalo issue and has now directed the UPDF Division Commander, RPC and the Minister for Northern Uganda to ensure that anybody with cows in an unfenced area in the Acholi, Lango and West Nile sub-regions to leave immediately but in any case not later than 3 weeks.

“Those who have got cows in non-fenced areas must go immediately because this is recklessness. Why should you bring cows into an area where you have no control? Therefore, I direct the Division Commander, the regional police Commander and then the Minister of Northern Uganda to issue orders for these people to move their cows. Anybody who has cows in a non-fenced area must go. All of them,” the President said.

Museveni was meeting the people of Okidi, Atiak sub-county in Amuru district.

The President further directed that people who are occupying government land (Aswa ranch, Lakang, land acquired for the Madvhani group, etc.) must leave with immediate effect and or not later than 3 weeks. He said that government will support the development of the dairy industry in the Acholi sub-region.

President Museveni explained that his decision was based on the various meetings he has held with the different stakeholders about the balaalo issue .

”I started with a group led by the Chief Justice, Owiny-Dollo and we had a long meeting in Entebbe and I was taking notes. Then some of those they call Balaalo came. They came with landowners who either sold to them or rented land to them; they gave their version. I said no problem, I will come to one of the areas myself and hear directly from the people.”

The President also revealed that the disagreement between the Balaalo and the people of Greater North mainly stems from the issue of the destruction of crops and ownership of land in the area.
“To have people destroying people’s crops is totally not acceptable and therefore, I just want to crosscheck briefly but it’s clear that if you have got cattle in an area which is not fenced, then obviously, they are liable to cause damage to people’s crops,” President Museveni explained.

“Now that does not deal with the issue of ownership. Whether you bought or rented, we shall handle that later because here, we are not handling the issue of ownership or renting contracts because whether you bought or rented, you have no right to destroy my crops and that is why I have already asked the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to draft a law criminalising this type of nomadism. They must all go and I give them three weeks to leave and they should not go to invade other areas of Uganda, they should sell the cows, get money and do other things.”

About land ownership Museveni promised to have further discussions at a later date with the two groups (those aligned to the Executive order No.3 & those who are not ) on the issue of ownership and renting in the region. He however emphasised that persons engaged in practices that are not compatible with the traditional norms of the Acholi community should desist with immediate effect.

President Museveni also cautioned the people of Acholi from tribalising the balaalo issue and the reckless talk that non Acholis should not go or stay in northern Uganda .

“You should be careful, don’t just talk about them anyhow, like Gilbert Olanya has been saying that “Balaalo cannot come here because Acholi is Acholi land, Balaalo cannot come here”, then you put me in problems because during the war I found my people suffering in an IDP in Anaka, I asked them what they were doing there, they said they have nowhere to go because there’s war here. I said Uganda is big, if there’s war here, you go to other parts of Uganda, I told them to cross the Nile and go to the other side,” the President stressed.

“They listened to my advice and crossed the Nile and went to a place called Bweyale. There were only three shops at Bweyale at that time but if you go there today, it’s a huge town and the majority of the people there are the Acholi people. If you say that non-Acholi people should not come to Acholi then what should I do with my people in Bweyale? Do I say that you go back or what? So you need to be careful. Therefore, we need to handle this issue carefully. These people who are playing around should talk about the matter seriously and we shall solve it.”

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