Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) President, Olara Otunnu, has called for immediate withdrawal of Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers and Police deployed in a disputed area between Adjumani and Amuru districts following reports of heavy-handed treatment by the locals.
The disputed 40 square kilometer piece of land in Apaa village Amuru district is home to about 1,500 who are both Madi from Adjumani and Acholi in Amuru district.
The same land has also been claimed by Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA), as a game reserve and National Forest Authority (NFA) as a forest reserve.
On Wednesday, a team of UPDF soldiers and police was deployed in the disputed area to evict residents ahead of the exercise to demarcate the boundary between the two districts.
However, the residents of Apaa trading center in Pabbo sub county Amuru district staged protests to oppose their impending eviction leading to clashes with security personnel where at least 56 people were injured, four of them critically, as the soldiers and police used sticks to break up the protest.
Government is finalizing plans to demarcate the land and plant mark stones to pave way for the eviction of residents before handing over the land to Adjumani town council.
According to Otunnu, the plan to demarcate the area is a suspect because many districts have boundary disputes which are even more serious than the one between Adjumani and Amuru where the communities are living peacefully.
He claims that he has evidence that the land in question has been sold by the government to a South African investor called Martin Gatsby which is opposed by the communities.
However, when contacted the 4th division UPDF spokesperson, Caesar Olweny, says the army is there to provide security for the surveyors.
He says the army and other security agents were deployed there with orders from government and with clear instructions.
He was also supported by Tamale Mirundi, the President’s press secretary.
Mirundi says it is the mandate of the government to demarcate district borders not the President as the UPC President claims.
Dispute over the land has been going on for years and numerous meetings have been held between Adjumani and Amuru district officials to resolve it in vain.