President Museveni is expected to visit the Karamoja Sub-region following the increasing incidences of cattle rustling, murders and a general atmosphere of insecurity that has yet again permeated the area.The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among, yesterday told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the President was expected in the region today, a message reiterated by Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen David Muhoozi.
But when this publication spoke to State House officials, the deputy Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Faruk Kirunda, confirmed the President’s programme but gave no specific dates.
Another source close to the developments, however, revealed that Mr Museveni’s visit could be on April 20.
A statement released by State House yesterday revealed that the President met with the High Command, and discussed the insecurity in Karamoja, where Mr Museveni said no cow should be stolen and that government would work on the roads in the region to facilitate security operations.
“The cattle rustlers are not a big problem. Nobody should be stealing cows. I want us to make a law criminalising cattle rustling,” he said
The visit by the Commander-in-Chief comes on the heels of the re-emergence of insecurity in the sub-region, spilling over into neighbouring areas, such as Teso, Lango, Acholi, Sebei, among others.
Last month, three geologists and two UPDF soldiers were killed, prompting the commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to declare “hell” on the perpetrators.
But during yesterday’s plenary sitting, the House adapted a resolution of Parliament, urging government to stop cattle rustling and restore peace, security and stability in the sub-regions of Teso, Lango, Acholi, Karamoja, Bugisu, and Sebei.
The MPs also accused government of inadequate, inconsistent and slow interventions, to a problem that could have been nipped in the bud.
“It is 12 months since we informed the authorities, the Masaka murders came, they sorted them out. The Kampala bombings came and we have sorted them out and we are in Congo. I do not understand, we told the government to stop this before it spreads, can we move our won government to take action,” the chairperson of the Karamoja Parliamentary Group, Achia Remigio Achia Remigio, said.
Esenu Anthony (Kapelebyong County), who moved the motion, told Parliament whereas the 2010 disarmament aided in creating peace ushering in a decade of social and economic development, the withdrawal of soldiers in 2018 had left the region vulnerable. He said the rush for arms started in 2019 as raids escalated
“As soon as government withdrew soldiers, insecurity [returned], the deployment was so low that you could go to a detach and find only three to 10 soldiers who could not provide security for the large areas they were covering,” he said.
He added: “This was not helped by the UPDF policy of not responding to calls for help at night…Until in the morning hours when they would show up when the animals have already disappeared.”
Ms Faith Nakut, the Napak Woman MP, said government trivialised the issue, adding that multiple meetings with the high command, and the President have not yielded results.
“The promise to protect the people was broken…we have not been silent, in this House we have mentioned it, we have smuggled it in any time possible. However, it hasn’t received the attention it deserved, perhaps on the assumption these are criminals,” she said.
Kilak County MP Gilbert Olanya questioned the origin of the arms and bullets that have now proliferated in the region even after disarmament.
The motion adopted by Parliament yesterday set out action points that the legislators want the government to implement, both in the short and long term.
Some of these include deployment of security forces, LDUs, relaunch a disarmament exercise and stopping reacquisition and proliferation of illegal arms.
The legislators also want government to hold accountable the officers in charge of security in the region, whom they accuse of negligence and connivance in ensuring compensation for the people who lost lives, livestock and property, affirmative action programmes and branding of all livestock.
Gen Muhoozi said LDUs from the region were disbanded after they were identified to be part of the problem, while the arming of other militias was untenable as it would signify government’s failure to protect its people but made no mention on whether government would deploy security officers in the affected regions within a week as advocated for by the Speaker of Parliament.