President Yoweri Museveni assured Acholi leaders that he would hold discussions with landowners before proceeding with the eviction of balalo, the nomadic cattle herders, during a meeting held on Wednesday. The meeting, which took place at State House Entebbe, involved 39 leaders from Acholi, led by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, to address the issues associated with hosting balalo in Acholi land.
Among the notable attendees at the meeting were Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hillary Onek, Foreign Affairs Minister Henry Okello Oryem, and Minister of State for northern Uganda Grace Freedom Kwiyu Cwiny. Additional participants included two Members of Parliament from Acholi, Anthony Akol and Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, LC5 chairpersons from Amuru, Lamwo, and Nwoya districts, cultural chiefs, LC3 chairpersons from areas accommodating balalo and their respective communities, among others.
On May 19, 2023, the President had previously extended the eviction of balalo to September 30, 2023, after temporarily suspending the implementation of Executive Order 3, 2023, aimed at removing balalo from Acholi land. However, on September 30, 2023, he extended the eviction once more, citing a failure to review a report provided to him.
Antony Akol, MP Kilak North and chairperson of Acholi Parliamentary Group, who also served as the vice-chairperson on the verification of balalo in Acholi, disclosed that the President expressed his intent to visit Acholi to assess the situation on the ground and make a final decision.
Akol emphasized that their stance was in favor of removing balalo from Acholi due to concerns over mistreatment of Acholi residents and the grazing of their animals in gardens, among other issues.
Amuru LC5 chairperson Michael Lakony emphasized the request made to the President to enforce a complete eviction of balalo from Acholi land. Their reasons included the endangerment of local communities and the various challenges posed by the presence of balalo.
Geoffrey Osborn Oceng, the Lamwo RDC, conveyed his gratitude to the President for accommodating the Acholi elders’ audience and revealed that the President had further extended the eviction order for balalo to November 15, 2023. This extension is intended to provide the President with more time to investigate the challenges faced by the Acholi people in hosting balalo, as highlighted by Acholi elders.