Gulu, (UG): Uganda’s National Army – UPDF has said that it is ready to implement the expulsion of herdsmen who will defy the Presidential Executive orders.
Last month, President Museveni extended Executive Order No. 3 for the third time for the eviction of the cattle keepers, commonly known as the Balaalo, to November 15 from the initial October 20 dateline.
However, while meeting leaders from Acholi and Balaalo cattle keepers in Atiak Sub-County, Amuru district last week, President Museveni ordered the cattle keepers, who haven’t fenced their land, to vacate in three weeks.
The president directed the Fourth Division Commander, Regional Police Commander, and the state minister for Northern Uganda to issue orders for the defiant cattle keepers to move their cattle out from the regions.
Fourth Infantry Division Spokesperson Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya told Uganda Radio Network Friday that the army has engaged its counterpart the police and other stakeholders on the way forward for the eviction implementation.
Maj. Turyamumanya notes that during this period, they are encouraging the cattle keepers who are unable to fence off their land and meet all their requirements to voluntarily leave or face forceful expulsion.
“We had meetings on Monday, we met with police on the legal implementation of the eviction. We are now in the voluntary period, where the president gave those who weren’t compliant to go voluntarily. Let them get lorries, load their cattle, and go,” he says.
He notes the eviction will involve the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the Ministry of Land, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and the National Forestry Authority (NFA).
The Amuru Resident District Commissioner Stephen Odong Latek however notes that none of the defiant cattle keepers in Amuru district had started voluntary movement out of the district since the President’s orders.
He said there isn’t any report from the District Veterinary Officer indicating those seeking voluntary movements after failing to fence their land have applied for movement permits for their cattle.
According to him, there are about 86 kraals in the district where the cattle keepers haven’t complied with the president’s guidelines citing the majority are occupying parts of government and private lands with no fence and water sources.
Latek says that as the eviction date line draws closer, the district security committee along with other sectoral committees mandated with the eviction of the cattle keepers met and drew a budget to facilitate the implementation of the orders. Although he didn’t reveal how much has been budgeted, Latek says the draft budget is already in the process of being forwarded to the Cabinet for discussion before its approval.
According to the President’s directives, the eviction of balaalo cattle keepers will kick off with those occupying the government land. In Acholi, government lands being occupied by the cattle keepers include Lakang Sub-County, the Central Forest Reserves of Kilak, Wiceri, Keyo, Labala, Aswa Ranch, and Atiak.
Latek also disclosed that already, the President is already scheduled to hold meetings with landowners and cattle keepers at the State House on pending land disputes. This meeting comes just two days after the head of state held meetings with a section of councilors from Amuru district local government on the issues of the cattle keepers.
Late last month, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwyiny, the state minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation revealed that the select committee had so far identified 473 cattle keepers in Northern and Northeastern Uganda.
Although there is no official data on the exact number of cattle keepers in Acholi, reports from the verification committee led by the acting Chairperson of Uganda Lands Commission show that 15.5 percent of the cattle keepers are concentrated in Amuru District. 13.6 percent of the cattle keepers are in the Gulu district while 9.1 percent are in Pader District.
The report indicates the majority of the cattle keepers originate from as far as Kyankwanzi (13.6 percent), Nakasongola district (10 percent), Kiboga and Masindi districts (6.8 percent), Ntungamo (5 percent), and Isingiro district (4.1 percent).
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