We Won’t Negotiate with Acana- Rival Acholi Chiefs

A section of Acholi clan chiefs opposed to the leadership of the Paramount Chief of Acholi David Onen Acana II has rejected calls for negotiations insisting that he must vacate the cultural institution.

The previous week, the council of chiefs resolved in an impromptu meeting to vote out Rwot Acana and his deputy, the Lamogi Clan Chief Otinga Otto Yai II for alleged abuse of office, misuse of funds, and a plot to sell off land belonging to the cultural institution.

The chiefs appointed Richard Santo Apire, the Atiak Clan Chief as the interim Chairperson of a six-man executive committee selected to oversee the transition at the Cultural Institution within three months. The decisions stirred mixed reactions among political, cultural, and religious leaders in the region who called for mediation to settle the tension at the cultural institution.

Speaking for the first time in Gulu City on Friday since his appointment, which has widely been perceived as illegal, Rwot Apire notes that the interim team has maintained their earlier position and is not ready for talks.

Apire said there shouldn’t be interference from political or religious wings, arguing that the matter at hand should be left to the chiefs who are in charge of appointing and replacing a Paramount chief.

According to Apire, his role as an interim chairperson, for now, is to expedite the drafting of a constitution for the cultural institution, which will point out the roles and responsibilities of the paramount Chief. He says although the Paramount chief’s role was to be rotational among the 54 clans, Acana took advantage of the lack of a constitution to operate as a supreme leader of all chiefs with intentions of making it a permanent role.

Apire says the interim team, which is composed of experienced traditional leaders will draft the constitution and at an opportune time will sit and decide on the election of a new Paramount Chief.

He called on the subjects in Acholi to embrace the new change of leadership arguing that they will bring unity, development, and transparent leadership that had been lacking.

John Peko Lugai II, the Chief of Palwo Chiefdom in Pader district, and one of the executive committee members of the rival faction noted that the opportunity for negotiation with Acana and his team was given three times but they chose not to cooperate.

He says the interim team’s focus at the moment is to revive the image of the cultural institution by instituting new leadership. Lugai reiterates that they won’t deviate from their earlier decisions and called on Acana to step aside and continue with his role of being a clan chief for Payira in Pader District.

Lugai notes that whereas the cultural institution has been receiving financial support in the past, they were grossly mismanaged forcing donors to suspend grants several times. For instance, he cited the gross mismanagement of Shillings 230 million the institution received through the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) in a partnership with the Netherlands Kingdom in November 2012.

The fund was part of the Shillings 1.2 billion disbursed to foster reconciliation through peace meetings and negotiations. Lugai also accused the Acana administration of illegally registering the cultural institution as a business entity without the knowledge of the council of chiefs.

The Acholi Cultural Institution Prime Minister Ambrose Olaa told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that they are not in agreement with the method used to take over power by the rival faction. He says although an emergency meeting was called on Monday last week to iron out the matter at hand between the rival faction and the Paramount Chief, the former snubbed it under unclear reasons.

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