Students from the Karamoja sub-region, who belong to the opposition political party National Unity Platform (NUP), have issued a two-week ultimatum to the government, demanding prompt action to address the persistent issues of poverty and insecurity in the region.
Led by Ernest Ayen, the District Youth Chairperson for Abim, the students accused the government of neglecting the problems affecting the sub-region. They noted escalating insecurity and recurrent raids, coupled with unmitigated poverty, which they say the government has neglected for a long time.
Addressing journalists at the NUP Headquarters in Kamwokya Monday, Ayen said that they have lost at least 10 people this month who were killed in Abim by unknown assailants. He stated that the only thing the community can do is to mobilize themselves and look for the bodies of the deceased.
For many years, the Karamoja region has witnessed several cases of insecurity mainly attributed to the porous border, inadequate police and military presence, and gun trafficking, which has claimed numerous lives in the region.
The latest incident involved the disruption of learning in Tapac and Katikekile Sub Counties in Moroto District, where the warriors and security forces turned Musas Primary School in Katikekile and Kodonyo in Tapac Sub County into a battlefield.
Ayen noted that the frequent deaths in the region severely impact the economic conditions, as it creates an environment of fear, rendering commercial activities impossible. Additionally, it adversely affects the education of students who have to travel long distances, exacerbating an already dire situation.
Their pleas come at a time when several government officials have been arraigned in the anti-corruption court over diverting iron sheets meant for the people of Karamoja. But Ayen said that the Karamoja people should not expect much justice from the government. Instead, the situation should serve as an awakening call that the community cannot rely on their leaders for assistance or justice.
Cynthia Adepomac, a law student from Kampala International University, said that most Karamojongs have been forced to engage in raids due to poverty, which they have experienced for many years.
It is against this background that the students led by Ayen have given the government a two-week ultimatum to address their demands, failing which they will take to the streets to display their discontent.
“We have given the government an ultimatum of two weeks. If nothing is done, they will kill us on the streets, other than die in our houses. It’s useless to die in your house; you’d rather die on the streets and know who has killed you,” he said.