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Ugandans Should shun Leaders Instigating Tribal Conflicts

By Ofwono Opondo

June, 13, 17
The resurgence of ethically motivated violent conflicts in a number of areas in Uganda is a worrying, treacherous and in most instances unjustified even when seen from a magnified glass. It is becoming evident that with the spread of democracy we are having leaders with a shallow world view un-able to rise and maintain their positions on the basis of correct and valid principles and consequently often find refuge in generating unjustified disharmony among their own communities many of whom have lived in peace for generations. Tororo district is one such example where the Jopadhola and Itesot have been living peacefully with each other for generations now.
The running conflict between the Madi of Adjumani, and the Acholi in Amuru district receptively purportedly over border dispute is an indictment on the educated and presumably enlightened leaders from both communities who now use their privileged positions in parliament to generate and sustain bloody conflicts for their own political and economic visibility and survival. To see that they can cause incitement leading to the brutal killings of innocent people and thousands more displaced should put them to shame.
Preliminary investigations show that among the dead are, Nyeko Sayid Opiny, Ojok David, and Okwera Galdino Kinyera from different parishes in Pabbo and Lamogi sub-counties, sixty kilometers away from Zoka forest reserve, where the clashes took place. They were ferried to raid and burn down huts in Apaa starting on June 4. They repeated the mayhem on June 5, and by June 6, the Madi from Adjumani who could no longer take it while lying low had organised themselves for a brutal fight-back. This is why the above were returned to be buried in Pabbo and Lamogi.
The three leaders from Amuru district, Gilbert Olanya (MP Kilak South),  Anthony Akol (MP Kilak North), and Michael Lakony (District Chairperson)  should step back from the high political horse they have climbed and reflect on what they are doing and saying publicly. Yes, they were elected to represent and speak for their “people’ but there ought to be civilized, lawful and modest ways to express dissatisfaction over public policy that one may disagree with. Instigating people to reject relief food they had asked from government claiming it could contain poison tantamount to criminal mischief.
By invading a police station where suspects who wanted to burn down Zawadi bus travelling to Adjumani had been taken, these leaders sent a wrong message encouraging belligerence among the rowdy Acholi youths. The police should be left to conduct unfettered investigations to logical conclusion and where evidence points to criminality those responsible must face the full wrath of the law.
The demeanor of restraint exhibited by the MPs from Adjumani led by First Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali speaks better for constructive engagement and possible resolution of the border dispute. In any case, matters of boundaries between or among districts shouldn’t be enforced by local communities but rather by the central and respective local governments.
It will be recalled that in 2015 the same politicians from Amuru district organised the local community including women to strip naked for then Ministers of Internal Affairs, and Lands, Gen Aronda Nyakairima (RIP), and Daudi Migereko respectively in an effort to obstruct a re-validation and survey process of the boundary between the two districts.  A report of the ninth parliament accused Olanya of organisng youths in Pabbo to violently disrupt a parliamentary committee investigation into a matter. The prevailing paralysis is mainly because of the behaviour of leaders from Amuru, and not intransigence from Adjumani or laxity by the central government.  For instance why can’t both districts accept the remarking of the old boundary line between old Madi, and Acholi districts respectively if they are genuine, and in any case where have the people in the disputed villages been voting over these many years!
Similarly, the renewed demand to split Tororo district allegedly between the ‘rival’ Jopadhola and Itesot on tribal grounds is unjustified, dangerous and ought to be rejected. At the heart of the dispute is a false claim by the Itesot that the Jopadhola have marginalized them in public jobs, social services, businesses, and social functions. It is important to point out that Tororo is among the most cosmopolitan with ethnic, tribal and religious diversities. Ethnically Tororo has the Jopadhola, Itesot, Banyole, Basamia, Basoga, Bagisu, Bakenyi, Bagwere and Sabiny as locally settled communities in big numbers, and it is impossible to uproot them so that each settles in specific geographical locations. There has been no evidence that businesses owned or run by either the Jopadhola or Itesot have been boycotted or ransacked on grounds of ethic considerations. We should challenge the pseudo elites instigating this split to publicly produce credible evidence to support their selfish claims otherwise they shut up. Instead, they should spend their energy supporting wealth creation programs in remote villages and upcoming urban growth centres because property in Tororo town is beyond the reach of most of their constituents.
We ought to have leaders or the leaders must have the ability to develop and act with self-restraint on public policy matters otherwise we shall not be able to handle and resolve many conflicting interests in the public sphere.