The killings in Karamoja need a permanent solution Norbert Mao
Norbert Mao, the president of the Democratic Party (DP), challenged the government to find a lasting solution to the abrupt killings in Karamoja. FILE PHOTO

The Democratic Party (DP) president, Norbert Mao has challenged the government to come up with a lasting solution to tackling abrupt killings in the Karamoja region.

Norbert Mao, president of the Democratic Party (DP), has challenged the government to come up with a lasting solution to halt abrupt killings in the Karamoja region.

For the past one or two months, a number of images have been making rounds on different social media platforms of Ugandans who were murdered in cold blood in the region.

About two weeks ago, the UPDF also recovered five dead bodies in Moroto District belonging to three geologists attached to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and two Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers who were attacked by suspected cattle rustlers in the Karamoja sub-region.

The geologists including one intern from Makerere University identified as Edna Musiime was killed alongside two UPDF officers who had accompanied them as they were conducting mineral mapping in the area.

Other victims were Richard Kiggwwe, the lead geologist and his colleague, Charles Olweny. They had been assigned to pick soil samples from Lokisilei village in Lotisan Sub County in Moroto District when they were suddenly attacked about 40 kilometres away from Moroto.

Speaking about these killings on NBS TV’s frontline program, Mao said the country needs a holistic solution to curb the increasing problem.

He said the government in the past has been disarming the warriors in the region but says the idea is not very effective because they can easily acquire arms from as far as Ethiopia.

“You can disarm the Karamojong, but they can get arms from as far as Ethiopia. We need a national solution and a regional solution. We need a holistic solution. Everybody is going to meet the President, he will promise, but it is very important that we get a permanent solution.”

“The raids are going to make the government programmes fail. Restocking? How do you restock when the cattle will be taken? Parish Development Model will fail,” Mao said. 

Other panellists including FDC’s Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda also gave their take on the situation. He questioned why an area that is heavily guarded by security is constantly facing warrior attacks.

Ssemujju also noted that Karamoja as a region seems to be isolated with little media coverage which has left many of the residents thinking that they are in a different world.

“This time around, I don’t know if we will get the truth. What I want to know from the government is, in an area that is heavily guarded like Karamoja, what has gone wrong?” Ssemujju questioned.

“A few times I have visited Karamoja, there was heavy deployment. Maybe the government celebrated early (peace in Karamoja). Karamoja doesn’t enjoy a lot of media coverage. It is what the government reports,” he added.

Others including Sarah Opendi the Tororo Woman MP said the problems of Karamoja won’t be solved unless there is complete openness among the leaders both within and outside the area in a bid to establish the root causes of the attacks.

“Who are these? Is it the Karamojong or people from elsewhere? We have to engage the government of Kenya. I hear there is a market that is manned by the raiders. How can this happen? There is something that is not clear about Karamoja,” Opendi said.

On his side the government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo said at the moment the government has no clear understanding of where the warriors are coming from but said the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) are manning the area to try and restore peace.

Opondo however, raised that some warriors who were screened and recruited into the auxiliary forces continue to bring up excuses that they are not paid well. 

“They work with the community and mount raids to get cattle for their local communities or themselves. Another element is the warriors attack those that have joined the government as punishment. Arms continue to flow. We have external raids, particularly from Turkana, as a result of laxity at the border,” Opondo revealed.