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Apaa Conflict Reconciliatory Meeting Called Off

Religious, cultural and political leaders from Adjumani and Amuru districts were expected to attend the meeting in a bid to restore constant peace among the two sects.
Members of Parliament During a Visit To Disputed Apaa Township in 2018
A reconciliatory meeting on the contested Apaa Township bordering Adjumani and Amuru districts has been called off.   

The meeting was scheduled for Monday at Lulai village by local leaders and residents in the area to mediate the recurring violent conflicts between the two ethnic groups that have left at least fifteen people dead since 2017.   

Religious, cultural and political leaders from Adjumani and Amuru districts were expected to attend the meeting in a bid to restore constant peace among the two sects.  

Abraham Opiro, the organizing committee chairperson says that the event has been called off indefinitely following President Museveni’s ban on gatherings.

President Museveni on Sunday evening banned public gatherings as well as communal worship for forty-two days in a move to contain the spread of coronavirus disease in the country which is currently on the surge.  

He explained that the day was expected to start with a memorial prayer at Apaa Catholic Mission for the people who lost their lives during the violence and would be preceded by a dialogue meeting between the conflicting sides seeking to restore permanent peace and harmony in the area.   

Opiro added that residents in the area had lost trust in the government`s moves in solving the conflicts citing that it has been long overdue.   

Christopher Lamony, who lost his nephew during the violence in the area in 2017 said that it was prudent for the local people to restore peace and unity among themselves without relying on the government.   

Rodento Okot, the committee general secretary explained that hundreds of people from the two districts especially of the Madi and Acholi ethnic groups had already been mobilized for the event. 

In an earlier interview, Yusuf Adek Okwonga, the cultural chief of Pageya Chiefdom in Acholi decried that the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions have greatly affected their efforts to mediate conflicts within their areas especially land conflicts.

Apaa which measures approximately 20 square kilometres stretch was reportedly infested by tsetse flies, it was a hunting ground and mainly used as hunting grounds for certain reasons including health.   

But as time passed, the Uganda Game Department amended statutory instrument Number 17 and gazetted a hunting area for licensed gun holders.   

However, this was revoked by then-President Idi Amin`s decree in March 1972.

Stealthily, in 1973 a resolution was passed allowing residents to return and occupy the land which they said was ancestrally owned.   

As lives returned in the area, it was again disorganized by the 20-year Lord`s Resistance Army insurgency which forced many people to abandon this land and settle in camps.

Consequently, in 2002 while people were in the camps, the area was gazetted by parliament into a protected area to promote tourism.   

As the LRA war subsided, people started returning to the land but were blocked by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). 

Conflicts over the land however extended to the two neighbouring tribesmen of Acholi of Amuru and Madi and Adjumani who also claimed that the former had intruded on their ancestral land.

This intensified in 2015 when the government demarcated the area 8-kilometres into Adjumani district, a stretch extending from Juka Bridge.   

This escalated conflicts between the two tribes leading to loss of lives and properties, something preceded by nude women protest.  

The intensity of the deadly clashes has since attracted the attention of leaders and government leading to a formation of a probe committee but to date, no solutions have been found.

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