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Karamoja leaders welcome disarmament exercise in Kenya

Brig Joseph Balikudembe, UPDF 3rd Division Commander welcomed the development. File Photo

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Leaders in the Karamoja sub-region have welcomed the launch of disarmament operations against illegal guns among the Turkana and Pokot communities in Kenya.

Currently, the Turkana warriors are voluntarily handing over their guns to the government during the ongoing disarmament exercise in Kenya. The leaders in Karamoja including the security forces are excited about the operations saying this would help to reduce the influx of guns into the region.

Brig Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd Division Commander welcomed the development saying they are ready to support the exercise by deploying along the border lines to deter those who may try to sneak into Uganda with illegal firearms.

Balikudembe noted that the disarmament in Kenya was part of the resolution made in the Memorandum of Understanding-MoU between the two heads of state in Uganda and Kenya aimed at strengthening the cross-border program for sustainable peacebuilding and development.

According to Balikudembe, the available evidence strongly indicates that the amicable relationship between criminal elements in Turkana and Karamojong facilitates the illegal entry of firearms.

He said the forces shall continue coordinating with the Ugandan and Kenyan governments to ensure that all the wrong elements are disarmed.

Remigio Achia, the Chairperson Karamoja Parliamentary Group noted that the initiative has been overdue and they are ready to cooperate together to ensure that the exercise goes smoothly.

Achia said they are going to embark on community engagement in peacebuilding and warn those who will be harboring armed criminals who might have escaped disarmament in Kenya.

He observed that Karamojong warriors have been buying and exchanging cows for guns with the neighboring communities from Turkana in Kenya and South Sudan.

Achia urged the government of South Sudan to also consider doing the same to disarm the Sudanese so that peace is guaranteed from Karamoja and its neighboring countries.

Moses Loru, the Chairperson Nakiloro Village Peace Committee in Rupa sub-county said that the suspected warriors in Moroto have been hiring guns from the armed Turkana who sneak into the region looking for pasture for their animals.

Loru said that they have been praying for disarmament in Turkana because they have been conniving with Matheniko to terrorize other communities in Karamoja.

Dr. John Erus, the Deputy Governor for the Turkana while in Moroto for a security meeting last week said they have embarked on the disarmament to get rid of wrong elements engaged in cattle rustling within their communities and the nearby districts of Karamoja in Uganda.

Erus said they no longer support illegal guns being in the hands of civilians because it has been mismanaged instead of serving the purpose of protection.  He also noted that sustainable peace cannot be strengthened between the two communities in Uganda and Kenya yet Turkana are still armed.

“We really need coexistence, but we realized this can’t work out if our people are still armed yet the neighbors are disarmed” Erus explained.

He appealed to the Ugandan authorities to guide them in the process because they have little knowledge of how to conduct the exercise without harming the communities.

Erus also urged the Ugandan forces to deploy along the borders so that the Turkana and Pokot do not have an opportunity to sneak with their guns and hide in Karamoja.

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