KAMPALA – Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has asked government to stop any form of eviction from Apaa pending further investigation on the contentious piece of land bordering Adjumani and Amuru districts.
His directives come just days after the President appointed him chairperson of a new committee tasked to find a lasting solution to the Apaa land conflict.
Mr. Oulanyah said government should stay eviction if at all they are happening now so that better avenues are found to move people outside the conservation area.
Last week, Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger accompanied by police and Adjumani District local government officials closed down Apaa market leaving more than 1,500 vendors stranded in a move aimed at restoring the East Madi Wildlife Game Reserve.
“If any eviction activity is going on in Apaa, it should stop now until further communication on what we should do with the movement of the people to get outside the conservation area so that there is smooth handling of the all the process,” Mr. Oulanyah said.
He made the statement while briefing the new Apaa land committee members appointed by president Museveni from his board room in Parliament on Tuesday.
Those in the meeting were the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Lands Minister Betty Amongi, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugee Minister Hillary Onek, First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, Minister In charge of Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu and Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the Northern Uganda State Minister.
Mr. Oulanyah told the committee that in their recent engagement with Dr. Rugunda, they found out there was need handle Apaa land issue with finality because so many efforts have been made to try and bring it to conclusion failed.
“We have been tasked to look at what is going on in Apaa to see if we can come out with some recommendation on how implementation of decision that has been made or decision that can be changed or whatever we can find to make the implementation of eventually clearing the conservation area possible and smooth without affecting people,” he said.
Mr Oulanyah also asked that in the interim period there should be no more movement for settlement into Apaa area both Zoka C and Apaa itself which has been confirmed to be in a conservation area.
He called for calm from both people in Apaa and the region affected [Adjumani and West Nile region and those in Amuru and Acholi Sub-region adding that leaders in the two regions should stop the use of inflammatory words.
The Deputy Speaker also cautioned the media on objective reporting and asked that they be part of the solution to Apaa land conflict rather than part of the problem.
He also noted that as part of plans to sensitize the community on their new roles, they will have a radio talk show on Thursday that will be relayed on all radio stations within the affected region.
President Museveni over the weekend replaced Dr. Rugunda with Oulanyah to lead a team assigned to bring to an end the long conflict of the estimated 827 Sq Km land government claims is in East Madi Wildlife Reserve in Adjumani District. The appointment follows failed mediation between leaders from Adjumani and Acholi region headed by Dr Rugunda.
Last week, government announced that it had given final orders to the locals settled on the gazette East Madi Wildlife Reserve in Apaa to vacate the land sparking off an outcry from locals and leaders in the region.