KAMPALA. The contested Apaa land negotiations has suffered yet another setback as leaders from both Acholi sub-region and Adjumani District failed to agree on President Museveni’s options of ending their long-running wrangle. The contested land borders Amuru and Adjumani districts.
On Saturday, the eight-member committees from both Acholi and Adjumani districts held another consultation meeting over the disputed land but failed to reach a consensus. This third round of negotiations was chaired by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and held at Gulu Presidential State Lodge.
The round of meetings that kicked off in September this year was expected to end in a consensus that would end the dispute.
President Museveni had earlier issued three key recommendations for the leaders from the two communities to discuss and agree on for a long-lasting solution to the Apaa land conflict. The recommendations included relocating the settlers to Acholi area and be supported and compensated by government.
Other options were to allow genuine land owners settle on the land but be restricted from expanding to gazetted areas and be offered a portion of land nearer the population area in Adjumani Town, which is outside gazetted land. But for more than four hours during Saturday’s negotiation, the leaders from the two communities stuck to their old positions.
The Acholi team insisted that genuine land owners be allowed to continue settling in Apaa and called for degazettment of the contested land while their counterparts from Adjumani endorsed a total relocation of the locals, saying the residents had settled in a gazetted wildlife reserve.
Dr Rugunda later told the press at the Gulu Presidential State Lodge at the 4th Division headquarters that although the meeting was resourceful, they have agreed to give time to the leaders from both sides to give their final submissions before government makes a final decision.
“We have agreed that the two teams make their final submission, the Acholi team have already made its final submission. The community from Adjumani is making their final submission,” he said.
Dr Rugunda said they will compare notes and analyse the two submissions for government to make its final decision.
He said the decision making will be transparent without government favouring any side.
“During the meeting, the government was accused of favouring one side of the committee, but I want to make assurances that government is not siding with any side in this negotiation,” Dr Rugunda said.
Mr Lawrence Akuti, who headed the Adjumani delegation, told Journalist that they have been able to get good interpretation of the land matter by one of the counsels who quoted the relevant law that will enable them arrive at a comprehensive report.
“The interpretation has given the community of Adjumani to come up with a comprehensive report that will be handed to the Prime Minister so that facts are sieved from it. It will help the government to come out with a logical conclusion on the Apaa land,” he said.
But Mr Dan Kidega, the former East African Legislative Assembly Speaker, who headed the Acholi delegation, said they will keep to their position, which is the voice of the people they represent.
He lauded Dr Rugunda for his assurances that government will compensate properties and lives lost in Apaa, guarantee constitutional rights of the locals settled in the area, and reprimand criminal gangs who orchestrated attacks in Apaa.
Ministers. Government officials who attended yesterday’s meeting included Internal Affairs state Minister Kania Obiga, Northern Uganda State Minister Grace Kwiyucwiny and Chris Baryomunsi, who represented the Lands Minister Betty Amongi.
Technical teams. The Technical officials included NFA executive Director Tom Okello Obong, National Youth Council Chairperson Lilian Aber, and Charles Tumwesigye from Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA).