Executive Order to Evict Herdsmen from Northern Uganda Deferred

The implementation of an Executive Order by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to evict nomadic herdsmen from Northern Uganda by the end of June 2023 has been deferred to September.

This was communicated by Gen. David Muhoozi, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs during a plenary sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa on Wednesday following reports of the continued presence of the armed pastoralists in the region.

Speaking on a matter of national importance, Maj. (Rtd) Dr. Jallon Anthony Okullo Aabuka, the Lamwo County legislator had informed the House that armed raids at gunpoint by the Karamojong warriors and insecurity due to Balaalo nomads are persisting in Northern Uganda.

Dr. Okullo cited the Agoro, Madi-Opei, Paloga, Potika, Nimu, and Lokung sub-counties as being the most affected in Lamwo District causing displacement of the population and their livestock in search for protection.

Cecilia Atim Ogwal, the Dokolo District Woman Representative reiterated that the Lango region is equally suffering endless raids from the Karamojong pastoralists, a situation being compounded by the presence of armed Balaalo herdsmen in the area.

In response, Gen Muhoozi informed the House that the implementation of the Executive Order issued by the President on 19 May 2023 has been deferred to September. In the interim, he said Gen. Salim Saleh, was still engaging leaders in Northern Uganda to resolve the Balaalo impasse.

Pursuant to Article 99 (2) of the Constitution, President Museveni issued Executive Order No. 3 of 2023 to avert anti-cattle rustling by indisciplined nomads known as the Balaalo in the North and North-Eastern regions of Uganda.

However, in the Executive Order, the President blamed the thriving cattle rustling on the ‘mistakes’ of army commanders who don’t respond in time to pursue the rustlers whenever alarms are raised by the affected communities, leading to a disastrous situation of large-scale economic and humanitarian disruption, and mass starvation of people.

The President also directed the Attorney General to draft a law criminalizing nomadism and proposed that a wrongdoer should serve seven years in prison. According to the President, the law should also provide for the confiscation of the cattle for Balaalo who enter Northern Uganda illegally.

Cattle rustling has been endemic in greater northern Uganda ever since colonial times in 1954. Since 2004 when the Government commenced the disarmament of Karamojong warriors, at least 41,000 rifles have been recovered and a dozen perpetrators killed during the exercise.

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