Elders Back Drafting of Constitution To Steer Acholi Cultural Institution

A section of elders and political leaders in the Acholi Sub-region have recommended the drafting of a legal framework to help govern Ker Kwaro Acholi (the Acholi Cultural Constitution) and avoid future leadership wrangles.

The recommendation comes more than a month after a section of chiefs broke off from the cultural institution and voted out Paramount Chief Rwot David Onen Acana II and his deputy Otinga Atuka Yai II.

The rival chiefs accuse Rwot Acana of among others failing to draft a constitution for the cultural institution ever since he was installed, attempts to sell off a piece of land belonging to the cultural institution, and poor leadership.

In their June 20 resolution, the rival chiefs appointed the Atiak Chiefdom leader Rwot Richard Santo Apire as an interim chairperson of a select executive committee to oversee the transition of leadership at the cultural institution within six months. The move has since created tension and drawn intervention from leaders in the region.

Among those who have since intervened to quell the tension are religious leaders under the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative led by Gulu Archdiocese Archbishop John Baptist Odama, legislators under the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG), a former legislator, and a retired high court judge. John Livingstone Okello Okello, the former Chua County legislator told the press over the weekend that the tension at the cultural institution has negatively impacted the entire Acholi community.

Okello, who is leading a team of leaders noted that a crisis meeting they convened recently came out with six key recommendations that need to be undertaken by the warring faction to ensure a peaceful end to the tension. The recommendation includes the need for the drafting of a legal framework to govern the Ker Kwaro Acholi (Acholi Cultural Institution), the nomination of three eminent Acholi leaders by both factions to spearhead mediation, need to avoid litigation on the power wrangle. Others are consideration of promoting the interest of the Acholi people first before self, dialogue, and promotion of unity to strengthen the region.

Okello says the absence of a constitution in any institution is disastrous since it doesn’t clearly guide how the institution should be managed. He notes that at the moment, the two warring sides don’t have any provision in their possession that spells out the action they have taken or are going to take.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Galdino Okello Moro, says a constitution is a prerequisite in governing society and notes that it’s important for the Acholi Cultural institution to have its own in place.

The Amuru District Chairperson Michael Lakony says the matter being raised by the rival chiefs shouldn’t be ignored as a power wrangle arguing that there is a need to listen to them and understand the problems happening at the cultural institution.

Retired High Court Judge Justice Ralph Ochan noted that dialogue should take precedence in the ongoing tension between the two parties in order to solve the grievances. He says the region is having a lot of challenges currently that need unity adding that once its people are divided, those in need of seeing it torn apart will jubilate.

“When there is an issue between two factions, you shouldn’t avoid dialogue,” he says. Justice Ochan made the remarks on Saturday while addressing hundreds of people at the Atiak Chiefdom Palace in Atiak Town Council, Amuru District where Rwot Santo Richard Apire hosted a section of rival chiefs loyal to him.

At least 22 chiefs from across the Acholi Sub-region, elders, and religious and political leaders attended the colorful celebration that saw the guest treated to a show of Acholi traditional dances and banquets. Late last month, the rival chiefs released a road map for the drafting of a constitution for the cultural institution that will lead to the installation of a new Paramount Chief on December 15 this year.

While addressing the media about two weeks ago at his palace in Gulu city, Rwot Acana alleged that a move for drafting a constitution was quashed by the council of chiefs in a council meeting in June 2001.  He says the chiefs opposed the idea of imposing a five-year term limit on the Paramount Chief position on grounds that it would turn political.

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