GULU – Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has started mediation between representatives of Apaa residents following a presidential directive last month.
The two-day meeting which started on Thursday Sep 6 is going on at the State Lodge at the 4th Division army barrack in Gulu town.
While opening the meeting Dr Rugunda, asked leaders representing Acholi and Madi community settling in Apaa to use the opportunity given by President Museveni to usher peace, stability and development in Apaa instead of camping at the UN Human rights in Gulu town.
“This is a great opportunity for the leaders to agree and close the chapter of the uncertainty which has seen the Apaa locals recently seeking refuge at the Gulu UN Human rights office,” he said
President Yoweri Museveni recently directed the premier to lead the Acholi and Madi committee on finding a logical and sustainable conclusion to end the Apaa land dispute which reports say has resulted into the killing of 18 people, burning of over 840 houses, displacement of over 2,000 people and destruction of unspecified households items and animals alleged by government security officials.
Museveni said that the permanent possible solutions are; government to resettle the concerned occupants; degazette and protect the national wild game reserve; or consolidating the two populations in one part of the area in order to preserve the park and cautioned leaders to desist from sectarianism, tribalism and bad politics over Apaa land.
The contested land stretches along the River Nile basin encompassing the Acholi and Madi communities living in Adjumani and Amuru district which has often resulted into violent clashes, with fingers pointing at several government agencies including the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the Uganda People’s Defence Forces(UPDF), the Uganda Police Force and some politicians.
Among those attending the meeting is the First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, Lands Minister Betty Amongi, State Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda, Kilak North MP Anthony Akol, 4th Division Commander Brigadier Emmanuel Kanyesigye and other leaders from the two regions.
Rugunda said everything agreed upon will be forwarded to the president and cabinet, but the committee must usher in peace, stability and development.