President Museveni Orders Balaalo to Vacate Non-Fenced Farmland in Greater North within Three Weeks
In a recent address to the residents of Amuru District in the Greater North, President Museveni issued a directive regarding the Balaalo settlers. He cautioned the people of Acholi and the Greater North against land fragmentation and encouraged cultural leaders to adapt their clan land laws to support development.
The President also pledged to hold a final meeting with those advocating for the immediate eviction of the Balaalo and those favoring a more gradual approach.
President Museveni has given a strict order for the Balaalo with non-fenced farmland in the Greater North to leave the region within three weeks. This directive applies to various sub-regions, including Lango, Acholi, and West Nile.
During a meeting with residents of Okidi, Atiak sub-county in Amuru district, the President emphasized the urgency of the situation. He stated that individuals with cows in non-fenced areas should leave immediately, as it is reckless to allow cattle in areas with no control. He directed the Division Commander, the regional police Commander, and the Minister of Northern Uganda to issue orders for the removal of these cows.
Additionally, the President ordered the eviction of Balaalo occupying government land, such as Lakang and Aswa ranch. He granted a three-week grace period for them to hire trucks and relocate their cattle, with the option to sell them.
President Museveni explained that the disagreement between the Balaalo and the Greater North residents primarily revolves around crop damage and land ownership. To address the issue of crop destruction, the President asked the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to draft a law criminalizing such nomadic practices.
The President further assured that he would have a final meeting to deliberate on the differing opinions regarding the eviction of the Balaalo. He also stated that for those who have properly fenced their land, discussions about land ownership and renting contracts would follow.
Acknowledging the sensitivity of the Balaalo issue, President Museveni urged the people of Acholi to approach it cautiously. He cited the example of Acholi people who, during the war, moved to other parts of Uganda for safety, emphasizing the need to avoid making sweeping statements about non-Acholi people’s presence.
Regarding cultural differences, the President mentioned the practice of Balaalo bathing naked in front of children, promising that this issue would be discussed in a smaller group meeting.
The President criticized MPs and other leaders for failing to promote the commercialization of agriculture in the region. He highlighted the importance of transitioning from natural grazing to cultivating grass, which would greatly improve cattle feeding and land utilization.
In addition to addressing the Balaalo issue, President Museveni cautioned against land fragmentation when the head of a family passes away. He advocated for the use of shares to preserve family wealth, similar to practices in Europe.
The President urged the people of Acholi to support development in the region, particularly in the dairy industry, as he expressed the intention to promote it. He emphasized the importance of learning from the Balaalo’s success in the dairy sector.
The residents informed the President about the illegal occupation of their land by Balaalo settlers and the mistreatment they have endured. Kilak North Member of Parliament, Mr. Anthony Akol, stressed that the Executive Order No. 3 addressed the issues concerning the Balaalo in Acholi.
The Amuru District LC5 Chairperson, Mr. Michael Lakony, underlined the urgency of the matter and expressed the local community’s desire for order and protection of their livelihoods, which have been affected by cattle destroying their crops.
The meeting was attended by various government officials, including the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Norbert Mao, the Minister of State for Northern Uganda, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, area Members of Parliament, and cultural leaders.