President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has postponed the deadline for evicting cattle keepers from northern Uganda to October 20, 2023. The Northern Uganda State Minister, Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny communicated the rescheduling during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in Gulu City on Sunday.
This is the second time the president has adjusted the deadline to evict the pastoralists. On May 19th, 2023 Museveni issued Executive Order Number 3 of 2023 banning cattle keeping in northern Uganda by June 30th, saying some of the pastoralists were disrespectful and leaving their animals to graze in people’s gardens, hence causing food insecurity.
The order also banned commercial charcoal trade because of its detrimental effects on the environment. However, upon request by the Senior Presidential Advisor on Defence and Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Gen. Salim Saleh, Museveni postponed the implementation of the Executive Order for the eviction of the cattle keepers until September 30, 2023.
From June to the end of September, an inter-ministerial technical committee led by Prof. Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi, the chairperson of Uganda Land Commission, and deputized by Anthony Akol was consulting the various leaders to help the government better understand the different aspects of the issues contained in the Executive Order.
Following the consultation, a meeting was held on Saturday at the Office of the Prime Minister in Gulu, to table the recommendations of the committee, where Gen. Saleh asked for more time to implement the executive order. While communicating the extension of the deadline, Kwiyocwiny said the extension was communicated by the president after the Saturday meeting, to allow him time to read the report of the inter-ministerial technical committee before he communicates the next course of action.
Kwiyocwiny said as the inter-ministerial technical committee was making consultations, a clear consensus was arrived at to implement the executive order, but that can only be done after three main things are done, including; registration and verification of all pastoralists, movement plans for those to be evicted and legal implications of evicting those who had legally acquired land.
Kwiyocwiny said starting next week, there will be preparations to draw the budget and look at the personnel and other logistics to implement the executive order since it will involve many ministries and agencies. She explained that the aim of extending the deadline is to ensure that it is done in a peaceful manner while looking at the broader economic implication of evicting the pastoralists.
Speaking during the meeting on Saturday, Gen Salim Saleh said although it was time to implement the executive order, they needed to ensure that it was done the right way so as not to cause more problems.
Gen. Saleh noted that even though everything seemed set to carry out the eviction, there were no logistics in place or personnel to carry out the eviction.
Francis Akorikin, the chairperson of Kapelebyong district, suggested that there is a need to audit all the and acquired by the pastoralists, to disqualify those who fraudulently acquired them.
The exercise to evict the pastoralists has been code-named Operation Harmony.