President Museveni’s decision to extend the implementation of the Executive Order for the eviction of Balaalo herdsmen in the Acholi region has sparked disagreement. The Acholi Parliamentary Group, represented by Chairman Anthony Akol and other MPs, opposes this extension, alleging that it may serve ulterior motives related to land ownership registration.
President Museveni, on the other hand, expressed concerns about some senior leaders registering their land suspiciously. He mentioned that he needed more time to study new reports about the Balaalo herdsmen’s operations.
Anthony Akol, Chairperson of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, stated that they are mobilizing the community for feedback and emphasized their support for the eviction’s immediate commencement.
However, PP. Okin Ojara, Chwa West MP, echoed concerns about the extension’s intentions and potential manipulation.
The State Minister for Northern Uganda, Ms. Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny, clarified that the extension aimed to study the new reports and develop modalities for implementing the Executive Order effectively. She emphasized the importance of stakeholder involvement.
The implementation team plans to register and verify the herdsmen, including their locations, families, and cattle. Measures to address disease outbreaks and legal implications will also be part of the plan.
Gen Saleh, Senior Presidential Adviser on Defence and President Museveni’s brother, criticized the Executive Order’s basis and the government’s readiness for eviction. He argued that the lands occupied by the Balaalo herdsmen are titled and owned by prominent individuals.
Gen Saleh’s remarks were made during a meeting convened by the Office of the Prime Minister and Operation Wealth Creation, where leaders from northern Uganda disagreed with his demands for more time before eviction.
In May, President Museveni issued Executive Order 3 to ban Balaalo from Northern Uganda and criminalize nomadism. The order prescribed a seven-year prison sentence for violators.
The enforcement of the expulsion was initially set for the end of June but was deferred to September 30, 2023. Currently, the government is documenting herdsmen who did not follow proper procedures when bringing their animals into the region.
The debate over the eviction primarily concerns the Acholi region, with concerns raised about the reasons for differing issues not seen in neighboring sub-regions. Lamwo district has the highest influx of pastoralists, followed by Amuru and Kitgum districts.