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Madi Cultural Leader Blames Politicians for Escalating Apaa Land Dispute :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Madi Cultural Leader Blames Politicians for Escalating Apaa Land Dispute

Ownership of the fertile Apaa strip of land that measures approximately 827 square miles is claimed by both the Adjumani and Amuru District local governments. Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA] also claims that the land is part of East Madi Wildlife Game Reserve.
A woman looks at the remains of her burnt huts in Zoka Village in the disputed Apaa land on February 21. Photo By Julius Ocungi

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Madi Cultural leader Stephen Drani has blamed politicians for the endless disputes on Apaa land bordering Amuru and Adjumani Districts.  Drani says contention over the land wouldn’t have escalated dividing the two ethnic groups of Acholi and Madi if political figures in his area left mediation in the hands of cultural leaders.  

Ownership of the fertile Apaa strip of land that measures approximately 827 square miles is claimed by both the Adjumani and Amuru District local governments. Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA] also claims that the land is part of East Madi Wildlife Game Reserve. 

Drani says land ownership in the country is under the custody of customary leaders and it would have been easy for him as Madi cultural leader and his counterpart the Acholi Paramount Chief to intervene and solve the problem.  

He said that politicians should desist from fueling the contention over the land to avoid bloodshed that would have been possible to prevent.   

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Apaa has been a hot bed of contention Since 2012 when the Uganda Wildlife Authority declared it a game reserve and forcefully started evicting residents from the area. Tension escalated in October 2017 when the area was annexed from Pabbo Sub-county in Amuru district and handed over to Adjumani district local government by the Local Government Minister Tom Butime. 

Recently, the Equal Opportunities Commission – EOC started inquiries into grievances on the contested Apaa land.     

The Acholi Paramount Chief David Onen Acana II has cautioned leaders against painting a picture that the dispute in Apaa is a tribal conflict between the people of Acholi and Madi.  Acana says the two tribes have a long history of peaceful coexistence built on cordial relationships and intermarriage.  

Acana says that ever since they discovered that politicians were deeply involved in causing conflict over the land, he and his counterpart from Madi have closely been working together but maintaining a silent voice. 

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Statements by the cultural leaders come in the wake of a recent protest by locals occupying the disputed land against a decision by the Electoral Commission to scrap off three polling stations in the area ahead of the 2021 General elections.  

The polling stations are Apaa Health Centre II, Apaa Primary School and Apaa Market. The three are in a part of the land believed to be in a gazetted wildlife reserve.