Democratic Party president, Norbert Mao, says he is set to meet leaders in northern Uganda following an incident where police shot and killed three people in Amuru district for protesting against the grabbing of their land.
The incident happened in Apaa village in Amuru district where about 16 of the protesters were shot with live bullets.
The injured were rushed to Amuru health centre for treatment and three of them are reported to have passed on.
On the same day, Kilak County Member of Parliament, Gilbert Olanya, was arrested together with three journalists from Parabongo, Lamogi sub county en route to Amuru district and are believed to still be detained in Masindi.
Mao says several people including very young children are nursing gunshot wounds in Apaa.
“I have held consultations with a cross section of political and opinion leaders. We cannot accept the police and army, who depend on taxpayers money to turn their guns on unarmed civilians. The government shouldn’t put profit over people,” Mao said.
Mao who has already presented his papers on behalf of DP to The Democratic Alliance (TDA) Candidate Selection Chairman, Hon. John Livingstone Okello Okello, roused the opposition to condemn the incident.
The DP strongman who is running for TDA Presidential Flag bearer says politics “should be a competition to serve, not a struggle for survival. In political contests there should be no enemies, only opponents”.
Mao says it is this desire to serve that has forced him to denounce the activities of the police and the army currently deployed in Apaa Parish, Pabbo sub county, Amuru district.
TDA condemns the incident
In a statement, The Democratic Alliance (TDA) condemned the “violent approach” government was using to demarcate boundaries between the districts of Amuru and Adjumani as well as the boundary of East Madi Hunting Area.
In 2012 the Uganda Wildlife Authority sent armed Rangers with the backing of police and the army to forcefully evict the residents of Apaa.
“People were beaten up, their livestock raided, their houses burnt and their crops set on fire. Some young men were shot dead in the operation. Twenty five men were arrested, beaten severely, taken to Adjumani where they were charged with offenses ranging from criminal trespass, being idle and disorderly to threatening violence,” reads the statement released by Wafula Oguttu, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
It says primary schools were closed down, the pupils and teachers sent away and the school desks were being used as firewood by the army and police.
“In fact the school became the command post of the army complete with a road block along the road leading to the school. We are aware that this forceful eviction is being driven by a profit motive.”
They accuse Hon. Moses Ali, Third Deputy Prime Minister, of having a hand in the area “offered” to one Bruce Martin, a foreign investor, to be developed as a private game ranch and hunting area.
After the incident where mothers of Apa exposed themselves naked before the government delegation in protest, government made a commitment that a border meeting would be convened to listen to the concerns of the residents and the leaders.
It is now said officials are busy planting mark stones and roadblocks have been set up preventing leaders from speaking to the people.
“We condemn the greed behind this illegal and violent eviction of people trying to settle down after twenty years in concentration camps. We demand that this illegal survey and boundary demarcation he halted immediately.”
TDA said for centuries, the people of Madi and Acholi have coexisted and lived peacefully and there has never been any dispute over the administrative boundaries of the two districts.
A case in point is Bibia Parish which is located in Attiak Subcounty, Amuru district and has a considerable population of ethnic Madi people.
“That is why we believe that this current dispute is being orchestrated by greedy people who have selfish interests.”
- Any attempt at a unilateral process of survey and boundary opening at the instance of Adjumani district or the central government should be halted.
- A high level meeting of government representatives, leaders from the districts of Adjumani and Amuru should be convened by to clarify issues of contention and provide an initial platform for dialogue.
- A meeting of the communities that reside in the affected area should be convened in order that they become part of the efforts to seek a solution rather than being victimized by decisions and actions imposed from above.
- Trusted mediators should be sought and asked to get involved in facilitating dialogue by the affected communities. The residents of Apa have for instance proposed that Archbishop John Baptist Odama and retired Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola be asked to mediate in this conflict.
“We demand that the media blackout and the isolation of Amuru stops. This brings back memories of Operation North when the entire region was cordoned off as soldiers violated human rights with reckless abandon.”
“Finally, we know that the NRM regime doesn’t adhere to the rule of law but we wish to state that the matter is before the courts of law and the court has issued an injunction against any further survey and boundary opening.”
Opposition asked government to act impartially to find a solution to the problem.