Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Acholi chiefdom has joined Acholi Parliamentary group in protesting the cabinet decision to compensate residents of disputed Apaa Township in Amuru district.
The February cabinet decision proposes a relocation and resettlement package of 10 Million shillings, 20 bags of cement and unspecified number of pieces of iron sheets for each of the households currently living in disputed Apaa Township.
According to the leaked cabinet minute, the resettlement plan targets only 372 households which government confirmed to have lived in the disputed area through the registration for the issuance of national identity cards.
Now, Acholi chiefdom says the cabinet plan only serves to confirm the long-held suspicion that government has never been clean in handling the Apaa land crisis.
Ambrose Ola, the Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi Cultural Institution says the proposed resettlement plan makes it glaring for everyone to see that government has been handling the matter with dirty hands.
Ola says the move further lends credence to the widespread political propositions that land disputes in the Acholi sub-region are no longer separate from existential threats facing the Acholi ethnic group.
Ola says the chiefdom will seek constitutional interpretation of the existence of public and former public land in Acholi as a measure to curtail government high handedness in land issues in Acholi sub-region.
Ola says the chiefdom will then use the constitutional interpretation to establish a customary land trust under which all land ownership interests in Acholi sub-region will be vested
Wang OO, an auxiliary policy-making organ of Acholi chiefdom says it is sad that the Executive is proposing something parallel to the positions on which it consulted residents through the Apaa Presidential Mediation Committee chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
Rosalba Oywa, an official of Wang Oo says it is sad that the government is not ashamed of disrupting the progress of post-conflict recovery it failed to protect lives and properties during the brutal reign of terror of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Robert Adongakullu, another official of Wang Oo says government is making it hard for communities affected by land conflicts to believe that they will survive the existing peace after surviving the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict.
Members of the Acholi Parliamentary group who leaked the cabinet proposal to the Press equate the proposed cabinet decision to a declaration of genocide on Acholi people.
Lilly Adong, the Vice Chairperson of Acholi Parliamentary Group says failures of government to prosecute perpetrators of violence which led to loss of lives in Apaa Township is similar to a declaration of genocide on Acholi.
MP Adong says government attempted to vindicate itself by polarizing Apaa land conflict through making it appear ethnic between the Madi and the Acholi people.
President Yoweri Museveni has always blamed the Apaa land conflict on political leaders in the region saying they would like to profiteer from the confusion. He accuses politicians of sowing seeds of confusion among the people.
Last year, the President instituted a 16-man committee under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to consult affected residents on the best option for resolving the conflict which dates back to 2012.
He proposed relocation and compensation of the affected residents, degazettement of part of the disputed 827 square kilometres or relocation to Madi or Acholi districts.
The affected residents favored degazettement of the proposed conservation area which has been gazetted and de-gazetted multiple times since the 1970s.