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Karamoja Leaders Accused of Frustrating Operations Against Cattle Rustlers

Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd infantry division commander says the leaders have been calling for a full scale disarmament to arrest the armed cattle rustlers, but when security started launching the exercise, the same leaders turned against the operations.
Brig Joseph Balikudembe while addresing media on security situation at UPDF 3rd division

Audio 4

The joint security forces have accused leaders in Karamoja for frustrating their military operations conducted to curb the illegal guns in the region.

On the 16th May, the joint security forces that comprises police and the UPDF launched an energized cordon and search operations across all the nine districts of Karamoja.

Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd infantry division commander says the leaders have been calling for a full scale disarmament to arrest the armed cattle rustlers, but when they started launching the exercise the same leaders had turned their backs against the operations.

 According to Balikudembe, they received thousands of troops to manage the operations, however the leaders have started disrupting their actions by pushing for dialogue which is unnecessary at this crucial time.

‘’We are becoming increasingly frustrated by the leaders who have failed to understand what they want, the leaders are ignoring the progress made by our forces and in some cases have hurt morale’’ Balikudembe said.

He said some leaders have been requesting for the release of some criminals, claiming that tackling Karamoja issues needs only dialogue, which can no longer work.

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The trouble started when the security forces shifted their cordon and search operations from the villages to town which led to the arrest of more than 500 suspected cattle rustlers within Moroto municipality.

Louse Beye, the district councilor Moroto representing Nadunget sub county said the security forces have been mistakenly arresting innocent people and the warriors are still left loitering.

Beye said that they are all interested in peace but they are not happy with the manner in which the joint forces are conducting their operations under the pretext of hunting for armed raiders. He accused the forces of abusing people’s rights while on their routine operations.

Beye has appealed to the army leadership to review their operational activities and change their implementation mechanism if they are to manage insecurity.

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Ismail Mohammed, the mayor of Moroto Municipality, accused forces for conducting their operations within town instead of concentrating in the villages where warriors are based.

Mohammed claims that if the forces focus on urban areas, then they will make security more difficult for them to manage the operations to restore peace because they will be wasting time with innocent people.

He said bringing peace to Karamoja is a collective responsibility of all the stakeholders but unfortunately the security operatives think they can accomplish the mission alone.

 Mohammed also reiterated that the security operations against the armed warriors may not yield results should the leaders distance themselves from the mission.

He called upon the human rights defenders to intervene in this matter because local people are dying in silence.

//cue in ‘’if we continue in that way...//

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In response to human rights abuses, Balikudembe said the operations were well planned and guided by an operational code of conduct.

He said they no longer want any lessons from the leaders because the chance given to them has elapsed and it is now the forces to take charge of the space. He added that the leaders should instead join the forces to get rid of criminals in the region.

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From  the 16th of May when the cordon and search operations commenced, 22 firearms with 134 rounds of ammunition  have been recovered while  1,099 suspects have been arrested.