In the Acholi region, there is a dispute over the extension of the Executive Order concerning the eviction of Balaalo herdsmen. President Museveni has prolonged the implementation of the order to allow for a thorough review of new reports about the Balaalo operations.
MPs belonging to the Acholi Parliamentary Group have voiced their opposition to President Museveni’s decision to extend the Executive Order’s implementation. They claim that this extension is driven by malicious motives, with suspicions that it aims to register landowners.
President Museveni has accused certain unnamed senior leaders of suspiciously registering their land, leading to his decision to extend the eviction process.
Acholi Parliamentary Group chairperson, Mr. Anthony Akol, emphasized their commitment to initiating the eviction and criticized the lack of clarity in the President’s reasons for the extension.
However, Mr. PP. Okin Ojara, the Chwa West MP, also expressed opposition to the extension, alleging that it allows for manipulation to occur.
The extension of Executive Order 3. 2023 on Balaalo eviction was announced by President Museveni, granting an additional 20 days for implementation.
Ms. Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny, the State Minister for Northern Uganda, explained that the extension is to provide time for a thorough examination of new reports on Balaalo herdsmen operations. An Inter-Ministerial Team is working on modalities for implementing the Executive Order, with input from all stakeholders.
The implementation team plans to register and verify herdsmen across northern Uganda, including their locations, families, and cattle. The process will also include movement plans for eviction, designation of holding areas to prevent disease outbreaks, and addressing legal implications.
Gen Saleh, the Senior Presidential Adviser on Defence and President Museveni’s brother, raised concerns about the lack of preparedness and necessary structures for the eviction. He also disputed the President’s stance on land ownership in Acholi, stating that the land belongs to big individuals, including government officials.
The debate over the eviction occurred during a meeting convened by the Office of the Prime Minister and Operation Wealth Creation, where leaders from northern Uganda disagreed with Gen Saleh’s call for more time before eviction.
Executive Order 3, issued on May 19, banned Balaalo from Northern Uganda, criminalizing nomadism and prescribing penalties. President Museveni initially set a deadline for expulsion by the end of June 2023 but later extended it to September 30, 2023.
Mr. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu West MP, cited documented cases of herdsmen not following proper procedures for bringing their animals into the region, emphasizing the need for eviction.
Ms. Santa Okot, the Aruu North County MP, questioned the focus on securing land for the Balaalo and noted that the Executive Order applies to all of Northern Uganda, not just the Acholi Sub-region.
The Balaalo population and their livestock have been increasing in the northern region, with Lamwo, Amuru, and Kitgum districts experiencing the highest influx of pastoralists.