In the Acholi Sub-Region of Uganda, Omoro District woman MP Catherine Lamwaka has issued a call for calm among local leaders as they grapple with the Balaalo crisis. This appeal for a composed approach comes in anticipation of President Museveni’s visit scheduled for November 3, 2023.
President Museveni initially issued an executive order on May 24, 2023, directing the pastoralist Balaalo group to vacate the sub-region. However, this directive has since been deferred, leading to ongoing concerns and discussions.
On October 30, 2023, Catherine Lamwaka convened a meeting with regional leaders, including Atiak chief Santos Apire Rwot, at his palace in Amuru District. The purpose of this gathering was to address the complex issues associated with the Balaalo crisis.
During the meeting, Lamwaka emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of the challenges faced by the people in the region. She recognized that the Balaalo issue might persist even after eviction and stressed the need to focus on problems like poverty, dependency, and alcohol consumption that have driven land sales.
Lamwaka called for open and honest dialogue to gain a deep understanding of the Balaalo situation and emphasized the significance of unity and objectivity in addressing crises. She urged leaders to refrain from politicizing these issues for personal gain at the expense of the common people and instead work toward comprehensive solutions.
Lamwaka also stressed the need for alternative livelihoods beyond selling land, encouraging the community to engage in productive activities. The leaders present at the meeting shared concerns about the exploitation of ignorance and the presence of idle land in the region, which has contributed to the Balaalo conflict.
Nwoya District lawmaker Judith Peace Achan highlighted the Balaalo’s exploitation of the local population’s lack of knowledge, resulting in the acquisition of land at low prices and, subsequently, conflicts. Aruu County MP Christopher Komakech called upon the youth to take a proactive role in utilizing the region’s land.
The meeting concluded with optimism expressed by Atiak chief Santos Apire Rwot, who believes that President Museveni’s upcoming visit may provide solutions to the Balaalo question. It is clear that a collaborative and comprehensive approach is essential to address this ongoing crisis and its underlying causes.