Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ugandan government has released six Turkana suspects who were arrested last month from different parts of the Karamoja sub-region over illegal possession of firearms.
The six Turkana suspects were arrested along with other eight Matheniko warriors from Moroto district during a cordon and search operation against illegal guns between February 20 and 26, 2023. Their release follows a series of security and diplomatic engagements between Uganda and Kenyan authorities.
Brig Gen Felix Busizoori, the Deputy Commander of the UPDF 3rd division told URN that the Turkana have continued to violate a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries by engaging in criminal activities. However, he hastens to add that their release was done as a good gesture for the East African Community partnership and a sign of peaceful co-existence.
He said the forces have released the Turkana suspects and urged the Turkana county government authorities to penalize them for abusing the peaceful co-existence and cross-border security arrangements.
“This diplomatic pardon should not be taken for granted as it may lead to impunity. Those who will be found violating Ugandan laws will be arrested, and arraigned in the Ugandan courts of law,” Busizoori reiterated. He added that the other nine Turkana who were convicted and serving their sentence in Ugandan prisons shall only be released on presidential directives.
Turkana County Secretary Peter Eripete, who represented the Kenyan authorities applauded Uganda for releasing the Kenyan nationals, adding that they are now working out an agreement on how best the Turkana and Karamojong communities can live in harmony. He said the Turkana authorities shall continue sensitizing their citizens to abide by the laws of Uganda whenever they cross over in search of water and pasture for the livestock.
Eripete observed that the Turkana pastoralists have suffered a prolonged drought and their only hope is in Uganda, adding that some wrong elements from Turkana communities trying to cause havoc shall be heavily punished.
In February 2023, Gen Salim Saleh accompanied by the Minister for Security Major Gen Jim Muhwezi met with the Kenyan delegation led by Rebecca Miano, the secretary for East African Community in a closed-door meeting to address critical issues on bilateral peace and cooperation.