President Museveni Suspends Eviction Of Apaa Residents

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has suspended the eviction of residents of Apaa and announced the latest government position on approving the functions of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the land disputes.

Museveni’s statement comes after he met with leaders from the Acholi Sub-region on Thursday in Gulu City following an uproar against the government’s latest decisions to evict locals from the contested land.

A week ago, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja ordered all residents of Apaa to voluntarily vacate the area by May 16 or face forceful eviction.

Nabbanja said the government had allocated 2.5 Billion shillings to compensate verified genuine households with 10 million shillings, 20 iron sheets, and 20 bags of cement to enable them to relocate to other places.

Apaa borders Amuru and Adjumani Districts and has been under contention since 2012 with Uganda Wildlife Authority and National Forestry Authority claiming its part of East Madi Wildlife Reserve and Zoka Central Forest Reserve respectively.

While addressing a rally on Friday in Kaunda Play Grounds in Gulu City on Friday, President Museveni said Nabbanja’s pronouncement was based on an old cabinet resolution passed in 2019 which had been temporarily suspended. 

He said the resolution had been under review by a committee led by former speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah before his demise in March last year.

Museveni says after the death of Oulanyah, he directed the formation of a judicial commission of inquiry but notes that the formation suffered delays for which he offered no explanation.

He notes that he will now swiftly sign the instruments of power to approve the formation of the commission of inquiry which consists of judges who conduct its investigation into the land dispute.

According to the President, recommendations made by the commission will help guide the government in making its decisions over Apaa.

The President on Thursday held a closed-door meeting with key leaders in the region among them the Paramount Chief of Acholi David Onen Acana II, and Gulu Archdiocese Archbishop Dr. John Baptist Odama on the contentious Apaa land matter in Gulu City. Details of the meeting however remain scanty.

Archbishop Odama had earlier told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the decision to evict the locals was undertaken without due consultation with the leaders in the region. He said the government had also failed to fully exhaust the opportunities of dialogue which would be key in addressing the land dispute.

At the same rally on Friday, the President also promised to decisively handle the issues of the influx of balaalo cattle keepers in the region following several complaints from locals and political leaders.

The president reiterated his commitment to seeing an end to the incursion of the cattle keepers whom he describes as indiscipline adding that he will write an executive order to deal with them.

The government last through the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) conducted forceful eviction of hundreds of Balaalo pastoralists from the region following a directive from the president in November 2021.

President Museveni yesterday ended his two days tour of the region on a mission to preach wealth creation and prosperity to the people of the Acholi Sub-region.

In his several remarks, President Museveni reiterated the four-acre farming model as an alternative to kicking out poverty and increasing household incomes for locals who own small pieces of land.

In his approach, the President implored households in the region to use an acre of the land for growing cash crops, an acre for fruits, one acre for food crops, and another acre for dairy production. 

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