Amudat, Uganda – A group of Pokot pastoralists in Amudat district in the Karamoja region are making efforts to meet President Museveni to express their dissatisfaction with the way UPDF soldiers in Karamoja have turned to mistreat the people of Amudat.
The pastoralists’ move to meet President Museveni follows two incidents where UPDF soldiers have continued shooting dead cows of the Pokot community in the grazing areas.
The first incident happened in September this year where a UPDF soldier shot dead 18 cows that were resting at the holding ground in Muruita sub-county in Nakapiripirit district. These cows were part of the recovered animals stolen by rustlers and were being kept by the army, waiting for the rightful owners to go and identify them.
A soldier who shot the cows was then arrested and detained by the army in the 3rd division headquarters in Moroto.
As the pastoralists were still perturbed by that incident, UPDF soldiers again went and showered animals with bullets, killing 50 cows and injuring over 70 others without any clear reason.
This recent incident happened on Tuesday, 22nd of this month, in Naporokocha village in Karita sub-county in Amudat district.
Although the UPDF 3rd division spokesperson, Major James Amuya, issued the press statement saying the cows were killed during the crossfire exchange between UPDF and the Pokot rustlers, this statement has been rejected by the local leaders who have accused the army of telling lies.
Ms. Betty Chelain, the woman member of parliament for Amudat, said she has tasked the army to take the leaders of Amudat to the ground where they claimed they were fighting with the rustlers.
“This is a total lie. Soldiers came and found young boys returning the animals back from the water source and shot at them. Which fighting was that?” she said.
Ms. Betty added that there was one cow which the shepherds were helping to give birth, and the soldiers shot that one also dead with the calf.
Losia, one of the pastoralists who lost 10 cows, said they need to meet President Museveni if they are to continue voting for the NRM.
“We have been so loyal to the NRM, voting for it to 99%, but this will not happen anymore if President Museveni does not address this,” he said.
Mr. Lokwadou, another pastoralist, said they were surprised why the army has turned against the Pokot community, adding that meeting President Museveni would be the only last option for them so that the President clears whether the Pokots are foreigners in their own country.
“This is what we didn’t expect the army to do for us. Instead of protecting our properties, they have turned to kill our properties,” he said.