Deputy Speaker denies Apaa has Uranium deposits, a possible cause to the unending conflict in the area.

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Adjumani-Uganda: A new conflict between the Acholi and Madi Community over land has started without government knowledge.

As government tries to solve a conflict that started in 2012 between the two communities that was apparently caused by Uganda Wild Life Authority, UWA and National Forest Authority, NFA over the contested East Madi Game Reserve that lies in Apaa parish, Itirkwa Sub County Adjumani district, a new conflict in the same parish has persisted in Juka village since March 2018 as government tried to solve the old differeces. This conflict escalated on 17th of January, 2019 when UWA allegedly evicted and displaced about 1,000 people from Juka village.

“I didn’t know about this new problem….Today when I went to Apaa, I found a situation of an economic, humanitarian, political and security situation surrounding this people….. The cry is that there is destruction of property, excavations of graves and exhumation of bodies are being done in the presence of the forces. I also talked to the president about it. There was deployment and the security situation has been fairly dealt with….”

“The president was dealing with the evictions from the forest and the game reserves but the current problem is this people are in the part of the land not owned by government. They are in the part between river Zoka, what the Acholi call Juka and river Goro B. …..That space is land owned by the community.  So the president’s resolution will not deal with this situation.” Says the perplexed Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanya after his visit to Apaa Parish, Yesterday.

Oulanya adds,

“There is evidence that huts were burnt where people were, with fresh, almost standard structures replacing them. The problem is that people who have been there much longer, their houses have been destroyed and new people have settled in. That is the problem. It’s no longer a National Forest Authority or Uganda Wild Life Authority eviction,” Oulanya adds.

On several occasions, leaders from Acholi sub region in Northern Uganda have mentioned the possible presence of minerals in Apaa Parish as the cause of the continuous conflict over the over 40 square Kilometer stretch of land that nears river Nile. Both Adjumani and Amuru districts claim the area belongs to them.

This was rubbished by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament who says the prospects of having minerals in Apaa is a baseless rumor that the local leaders are using to fuel the conflict between the two communities of Madi and Acholi to continue fighting each other over the area.

Oulanya yesterday visited Juka C Village in Apaa parish where the UPDF soldiers have deployed to end a new crisis that had started in a different area, at Rwakitura centre that has led to the displacement of over 1,000 people to a camp in Juka C trading centre as told by Atube Bosco the camp leader for the Acholi Community.

“These attacks and evictions are not on government land, this land belongs to the community. When I went to an area, they called it Rwakitura, a one Atube (an Acholi) was chased away from his land and a new man, Idro (a Madi) and his people were building a kind of camp for the Madi people.” Oulanya narrates.

Oulanya claims that the seeming tribal conflict is being fueled by three leaders from Acholi Sub Region who he declined to mention for lack of proof but contents that the community mentioned their names.

In August last year, President Yoweri Museveni visited Apaa to assess the then crisis and warned leaders Anthony Akol, the Kilak North Memebr of Parliament and his counterparts Gilbert Olanya of Kilak South and Michael Lakony the Amuru District Local Government Chairperson to stop fueling the conflict between the Acholi and Madi in Apaa.

However recently, while addressing the media in Gulu town, Lyndro Komakech, the Gulu Municipality Member of Parliament in his capacity as the chairperson lands in the Acholi Parliamentary Group says the conflict in Apaa is being fueled by those with interest in the minerals under, on the surface and above the area. Komakech says government should come out clearly and declare their interest in the land that allegedly has the largest deposit of Uranium, a mineral for nuclear production.

“We have a research that was done. We need that research validated because when you touch on Apaa, the issue is not displacement. The issue is about competition for natural resources. These natural resources are over, under and above. The under is the greatest. Current research states that Uganda has the richest deposit of uranium. And it is located in Amuru. Therefore whoever controls that space, controls the process from nuclear production.” Komakech told journalists recently at Taks Centre, Gulu.

But the Deputy Speakers says the government would not take land from the community where there are minerals by first taking away their land.

“If there was any precious minerals that government wants to take charge of, there are procedures for acquiring land. If government wants to take land, the constitution allows government to take land upon prior compensation. So Government comes in day light openly using constitutional mechanism…. I would not want to speculate about the presence of minerals…..”

He urged those who think there are minerals in Apaa to use the geological map of Uganda to prove their claims.

He says the conflict in Apaa started during the Lord’s Resistance Army Insurgency When the Acholi where in the Internally Displaced Person’s Camp when Madi leaders took the issue of East Madi Game Reserve before Parliament and the area was gazzetted.

“We passed it as East Madi without knowing what was on the ground.”

He further says that was a mistake that parliament made because there was not ground work to understand that Apaa was an area occupied by mostly the Acholi community.

He adds that the other issue that has since confused the people is the boundary demarcations for administrative purpose but the leaders have failed to make their people understand that this should not affect settlement for either communities that have existed for long and intermarried for generations.

Apaa Parish was given to Tirikwa Sub County in Adjumani district in 2016 in a contested boundary demarcation between Amuru and Adjumani district leaders. This has continued a conflict that began in 2012 that has seen people lose their lives and thousands displaced from their land.

This purportedly was caused by the Conflict between Uganda Wild Life Authority and National Forest Authority over the 40 Square Kilometer stretch of land.

In August last year, President Yoweri Museveni tasked the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to mediate a lasting solution from the community leaders from both sides.

The President had earlier issued three key recommendations for the leaders from the two communities to discuss and agree on for a long-lasting solution to the Apaa land conflict. The recommendations included relocating the settlers to Acholi area and be supported and compensated by government.

To date, no resolution has been made as the community expected the president to solve their problems so they came peacefully settle in their land. The 16 man team in the set committee have not agreed from either side on the single solution the president requested for as a solution from his resolutions.

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