A section of members of parliament from the Acholi sub-region has rejected the extension of the deadline for evicting migrant cattle keepers in the Acholi sub-region.
The MP’s reaction followed a communication that President Yoweri Museveni had extended the deadline for the eviction to November 15, from the initial declaration of October 20. This is the third time that the president has extended the deadline for evicting cattle keepers from northern Uganda.
The President issued an executive order on May 19, 2023 (Executive Order Number 3), stopping the migrant cattle keepers from grazing cattle in northern Uganda by June 30. He reasoned that some of the pastoralists were causing food insecurity by leaving animals to graze in crop gardens.
However, the deadline was extended to September 30, on request from the Senior Presidential Advisor on Defence and Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Gen. Salim Saleh. On October 1, the state Minister for Northern Uganda Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny again announced the extension of the deadline to October 20.
Chua East MP PP Okin Ojara said the extension of the deadline to November 15 beats the purpose of an executive order. He added that the continuous extension is centred only around the issue of the pastoralists, yet the order stressed the need to end commercial Charcoal burning, Turkana and Karamojong problems, and the deployment of the police force in the country.
Okin said they no longer welcome the extension of the deadline but feel like the pastoralists are being protected even as they abuse the rights of the indigenous people to own land customarily.
Okin said they will start mobilising the locals on the need to evict the pastoralists, to prevent conflict over the ‘promised land’ of the Acholi in the future with the pastoralists.
Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya argued that the several deadline extensions for the implementation of the executive order are an indication that President Yoweri Museveni has no interest in evicting the pastoralists but rather a way of enabling the pastoralists to buy land in Acholi.
Olanya further said the ill motive of the president is seen when the pastoralists were evicted from other parts of the country without any challenge, but their eviction from Acholi is being delayed intentionally.
Olanya said they would immediately start moving into all the districts where the pastoralists are to ascertain how many are still around before they start evicting them.
On September 30, 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. The exercise to evict the pastoralists has been code-named Operation Harmony.