MOROTO – Karimojong pastoralists have asked government to give them back their guns so that they can be in position to protect their property and livestock against the armed Turkanas.
The pastoralists demanded to be given back guns on Wednesday during the security meeting held in Mogoth village in Rupa Sub County in Moroto district.
The security meeting was called by elders following the growing insecurity concern caused by sustained attacks from armed Turkana pastoralists grazing their livestock in Uganda.
In 2001 government launched a disarmament exercise in Karamoja and collected a total of 50,000 guns from the Karimojong.
The launch of disarmament was after the Karimojong started misusing guns to terrorize their neighboring districts such as Teso, Sebei, Acholi and also laying road ambushes killing innocent people.
Mr. Apaloma Angella an elder said their armed Turkana neighbors have taken it as an advantage of the Karimojong being armless for them to steal hundreds of livestock and killing people in Karamoja.
“We want government to give us back guns so that we deal properly with these armed Turkanas who think we are women,” he said.
For the last two weeks the Turkanas who are the Kenya’s second largest pastoral group have been destabilizing the Karimojong in Kotido forcing them to flee their kraals.
According to Mr. Angella the UPDF soldiers deployed to protect the Karimojong with their livestock have either got tired or they are few on the ground making it hard for the force to prevail over the armed Turkanas.
“If government gives us back guns, we shall ask the UPDF to go for leave and allow us only two weeks to sort out our enemies who think it was a mistake for us to hand over guns to government,” he said.
Mark Loputh another elder wandered why government of Kenya has paid deaf ears to several calls from Karamoja to disarm the armed Turkana and Pokot pastoralists.
“There will be no peace in these communities if Kenya government does not disarm its armed Turkana and Pokots,”he said.
But the resident district commissioner Moroto Mr. peter keen Lochap appealed the community to calm down saying the security was working hard to sort out those who are destabilizing the security of the Karimojong.
“Calm down government will never leave you to be battered by armed people within one week everything would have been sorted,” he said.
In 2015 President Museveni while speaking during 34th of UPDF anniversary celebrations, commonly known as Tarehe sita in Moroto, he said he would not tolerate cross border cattle raids from the armed pastoralists.
“Turkana and Pokot pastoralists are free to come and graze their livestock in Uganda when they are not armed but if they come while armed, they will stay here horizontally,” he warned.
Currently the hundreds of Turkana are grazing in Karamoja region since drought forced them out of their country last year.