President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni engaged in discussions with a delegation of leaders from the Acholi sub-region on October 18, 2023, at State House Entebbe. The delegation, led by the Chief Justice of Uganda, His Lordship Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, convened to deliberate on a range of issues concerning Presidential Executive Order №3, which addresses, among other matters, the contentious issue of Balaalo land ownership in the Acholi sub-region.
The Executive Order, issued by President Museveni on May 19 of this year, followed his regional tour, during which he pledged to address the concerns related to errant and undisciplined Balaalo herdsmen. In this directive, the President imposed a ban on all Balaalo from Northern Uganda, with an initial deadline for their departure set for the end of June. This deadline was later extended to September 30.
However, President Museveni once again extended the implementation of the order, this time to October 20, 2023. The purpose of this extension was to provide the President with additional time to review new reports regarding the operations of the Balaalo herdsmen in the region.
During the meeting, the Acholi leaders conveyed their concerns to the President. They highlighted instances where some Balaalo had been allegedly invoking the names of high-ranking government officials to engage in unlawful activities, such as land grabbing and destruction of local crops. These actions had created tension and conflicts in the Acholi sub-region.
In response to the concerns raised by the Acholi leaders, President Museveni assured them that the issue would be addressed by promoting a harmonious relationship between the Acholi people and the Balaalo herdsmen. The President emphasized the need for concrete evidence to support allegations of crimes and wrongdoing.
“What you are talking about is very easy. You give me factual examples of the crimes being committed so that I have where to move in,” President Museveni noted during the discussions.
The meeting also saw the participation of several key government officials and leaders, including the Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Hilary Onek, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (International Affairs), Hon. Henry Okello Oryem, Minister of State for Economic Monitoring, Hon. Beatrice Akello Akori, Bardege-Layibi Division MP, Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, Kilak County MP, Hon. Anthony Akol, and various opinion and cultural leaders.
The discussions at State House Entebbe demonstrate the government’s commitment to addressing the issues surrounding the Balaalo herdsmen and their interactions with local communities, with a focus on finding a balanced and fair solution that promotes peaceful coexistence in the Acholi sub-region.
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