President Museveni’s Executive Order No. 3, aimed at evicting Balaalo cattle keepers who have not complied with land fencing requirements, has prompted the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to assert their readiness to implement the expulsion. This follows the President’s extension of the eviction deadline to November 15 from the initial October 20 date.
In a recent meeting with leaders from Acholi and Balaalo cattle keepers in Atiak Sub-County, Amuru district, President Museveni specified a three-week ultimatum for cattle keepers without fenced land to vacate. To enforce this, the Fourth Division Commander, Regional Police Commander, and the State Minister for Northern Uganda have been directed to issue eviction orders.
Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya, spokesperson for the Fourth Infantry Division, emphasized that the UPDF, in collaboration with the police and other stakeholders, is currently discussing the legal aspects of eviction implementation. During this voluntary period, cattle keepers are encouraged to leave willingly or face forceful expulsion if they fail to meet the specified requirements.
The eviction process will involve key government bodies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the Ministry of Land, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and the National Forestry Authority (NFA).
Amuru Resident District Commissioner, Stephen Odong Latek, reported that no defiant cattle keepers in Amuru district have voluntarily moved out, as instructed by the President. He highlighted that a significant number of kraals in the district occupy government and private lands without proper fencing and water sources.
As the eviction deadline approaches, Latek revealed that the district security committee, alongside other sectoral committees responsible for the eviction, has drafted a budget for implementation. The budget is currently under consideration by the Cabinet.
President Museveni’s directives prioritize the eviction of Balaalo cattle keepers from government lands, including areas in Acholi like Lakang Sub-County, Central Forest Reserves of Kilak, Wiceri, Keyo, Labala, Aswa Ranch, and Atiak.
Latek also disclosed that the President is scheduled to meet with landowners and cattle keepers at the State House to address pending land disputes. This meeting follows discussions with councilors from Amuru district on cattle keeper-related issues.
According to Grace Freedom Kwiyucwyiny, the state minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation, a select committee has identified 473 cattle keepers in Northern and Northeastern Uganda. Although official data on the exact number of cattle keepers in Acholi is unavailable, a verification committee led by the acting Chairperson of Uganda Lands Commission indicates concentrations of 15.5% in Amuru District, 13.6% in Gulu district, and 9.1% in Pader District.
Reports further specify that the majority of cattle keepers originate from various districts, including Kyankwanzi, Nakasongola, Kiboga, Masindi, Ntungamo, and Isingiro, highlighting the widespread impact of the impending eviction.