Kenyan pastoralists in Trouble as UPDF deploys
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has deployed heavily between Karamoja borders and the neighboring Kenya ahead of a planned operation to flash out Turkana pastoralists grazing their livestock in Karamoja sub region.
The operation is a directive by the former Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Edward Katumba Wamala.
In a message sent out to the two divisions that border Turkana in Kenya, Gen Katumba accused Turkana pastoralists from Kenya of illegally selling guns in Karamoja sub region.
He noted that Turkana pastoralists have consistently defied cross-border rules prohibiting them from crossing into Uganda with firearms.
Major Edward Birungi, the spokesperson of the UPDF 5th Division that covers areas of Kotido, Abim, Kaabong and Agago districts and Capt Isaac Owera, the Spokesperson of the UPDF 3rd division which covers areas of Moroto, Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Napak, Sebei, Busoga and Teso regions confirmed the deployment of the troops along the borders.
Major Birungi said the deployment is aimed at boosting the Force with man power during the operation which he said will start anytime.
“We have got the orders to deploy. We shall start our operation any time from now and we will work within the orders given to us so,” he said.
Turkana pastoralists water their cattle at Kobebe dam in Moroto District recently. FILE PHOTO
Major Birungi said the Turkana pastoralists had become defiant and insolent to Ugandan security personnel.
Referring to a recent incident in Turkana pastoralists engaged in fire exchange with the soldiers who had gone to disarm them in Kamion Sub-county in Kaabong District, Gen Wamala said they will not tolerate insubordination.
He said the army killed two of the armed Turkanas and recovered three AK-47 sub-machine guns.
The Turkana are Kenya’s second largest pastoralist group and keep crossing into Karamoja region in Uganda in search of water and pasture. The region is currently host to about 50,000 Turkana pastoralists who entered the country with more than 90,000 livestock following the persistent drought in northwest Kenya.
They are currently grazing in the areas of Kobebe in Moroto, Loyoro, Kamion and Kalapata in Kaabong District.
During Tarehe Sita celebrations in Moroto District in February 2015, President Museveni said Kenyan Turkana and Pokot pastoralists were free to cross into Uganda to graze their animals on conditions that they are not armed.
“I have no problem with the Turkana and Pokot pastoralists crossing into Uganda to graze, but they should not dare come with arms,” he said.
The president also warned that he will not tolerate people with intentions of destabilizing the peace achieved in Karamoja region since government successfully disarmed Karimojong cattle rustlers.
Our efforts to get a comment from the Turkana leadership including the Governor of Turkana County, Mr Josphat Nanok or his deputy, Mr Peter Lokoel failed after repeated calls and text messages to their known phone numbers went unanswered.
However, Mr Mark Lokuruka, one of the pastoralists who spoke to Daily Monitor appealed to the Uganda government not to criminalize all the Turkanas saying some of them respect the Ugandan laws.
“It’s unfortunate that Uganda which has been the key government in supporting us whenever drought hits Kenya has decided to chase us away but for sure some of us are innocent and we left our guns in Kenya,” he said.
He said if they are pardoned, they would cooperate with Ugandan security officials to get rid of their colleagues who adamantly cross into Uganda with their guns.
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