Kenya and Uganda communities recommit to pursue peace

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The Turkana and Karamojong communities have reaffirmed their commitment to the MoU on cross-border peace signed between Kenya and Uganda, to end armed conflict and cattle rustling in the borderlands.

In a peace meeting held yesterday in Kobebe, Uganda, attended by government representatives and heads of security agencies from the two countries, the communities promised to support an operation to mop up ilegal firearms, which will be spearheaded by the UPDF.

In the meeting, attended by a delegation from Turkana County led by Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai, the communities were informed of a resolution by leaders to fully support the disarmament effort and establish a crackdown on cattle rustling, which was said to be the cause of rising insecurity along the Kenya-Uganda boarders.

In the same meeting, Kenya and Uganda leaders also agreed on the continued peaceful coexistence between the two communities and promote sharing of the existing resources by pastoralists from the two communities.

“We ask you with respect to abandon conflict, let go of the fire-arms in your possession. It is not allowed in Uganda as well as in Kenya. It is a shame that there is conflict and bloodshed between the Turkana and Karamojong yet we are one people,” the governor appealed.

H.E Gov.Jeremiah Lomorukai, Turkana county boss

He stated that the Turkana agreed with the directive that no armed pastoralists will cross over to Uganda and asked residents of Turkana to be vigilant and respect the directive.

He informed the Turkana pastoralists that his administration had requested the Ugandan administration to allow them to graze their livestock in Uganda because of the current drought crisis in Kenya. He said the challenges facing Turkana were many and needed his attention, and therefore he asked residents to embrace peace to end the need for him to spend more time than was needed addressing conflicts along the Kenya-Uganda borderlands.

Governor Napotikan stated that the Karamojong and the Turkana shared a common ancestry and beseeched the communities to live together in peace and promised to extend the county relief distribution efforts to benefit pastoralists living in Uganda.

He thanked the Ugandana president, H.E Yoweri Museveni for letting pastoralists from Turkana to move freely into Uganda in search of water and pasture for their livestock. He also assured that the County Government will support all measures by both governments to end banditry, and promised to invest in programs that will improve the livelihood of cross-border communities.

He also mentioned on the county’s plan to invest in mega dams in Turkana to benefit pastoralists in the borderlands.

As a follow up, the Governor urged the two governments and peace stakeholders to review the success of the Lokiriama Peace Accord and replicate measures in other existing agreements.

Moroto RDC Justin Tuko added that the meeting was key to reaffirming the two countries’ commitment to the MoU for Cross-border peace and Development plan signed by President Yoweri Museveni and the then President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta back in 2019. He also thanked the pastoralists from the two communities for attending the important meeting so as to engage in the peace talks and address the causes of insecurity.

UPDF Division Brig Gen Joseph Balikuddembe informed the communities that leaders had given security agencies a thumbs-up to disarm anyone found in possession of the illicit firearms.

“You either decide to be a criminal or a pastoralist. From today, any criminal who will raid cows from anywhere and enter any kraal the following people will be arrested. Those with guns, bows and arrows, and their collaborators including kraal leaders who keep quiet in the faces of crimes, will be arrested” he warned.

He informed leaders from the two communities that a UPDF Operation code-named “Usalama kwa Wote”, had recovered 620 guns, over 3000 rounds of ammunition and arrested 859 culprits in the Karamoja region. He revealed that Kenya and Uganda had formed a Joint Defense Committee in October, to address issues of cross-border security challenges.

Jie MP Lokii Peter Abrahams insisted the Jie and Turkana communities had to move away from the vicious cycle of violencewhile Letea MCA who spoke on behalf of Turkana MCAs said that peace was a pre-requisite for development and argued that conflicts had dragged the region behind on development.

Turkana County Commissioner Jacob Ouma also promised to deal with cattle rustlers engaged in violence in the borderlands and agreed on joint collaboration on cross-border security to get rid of illegal firearms in the region.

He said the government of Kenya was grateful for Uganda accommodating Kenyan pastoralists and agreed that the generosity made it imperative that the two governments work closely for sustainable peace. He also proposed that the joint security team target address the proliferation of small arms from the region in six months.

The Uganda leaders present included RDCs from the Karamoja cluster among them John Rex Achilla (Kaabong), Ambrose Onoria (Kotido), Moroto District woman member of parliament Stella Atyang among others.

The Kenyan delegation included Turkana County Police Commandant Mathew Ndanyi, a host of Deputy and Assistant County Commissioners, and other heads of security agencies from the county.

MCAs present included Deputy Speaker Ekuwam Philip Lomuria (Nanam), Apuron Julius Edung (Kalobeyei), Vincent Ekipor (Lokichoggio), Francis Ngimusia (Letea), Lapayo Lomuria Lawrence (Lokiriama/Lorengippi), Samuel Aliwo (Lobokat), nominated members Selina Lokope and Rebecca Epae.

Senior County Government officials accompanying the Governor include County Executive for Public Service, Administration and Disaster Management Jeremiah Namuya, Ag. Chief Officer Office of the Governor Ruth Emanikor, Ag. Director for Peace Geoffrey Apedor, Chief of Staff Yoromoe Peter, and Ag. Director Disaster Risk Management Moses Nawoton, among others.

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