What you need to know:
- The President says the eviction must be concluded by mid-March, advising the Balaalo to return to their districts of origin.
- Other parts of the country have also turned against the herdsmen.
President Museveni has directed all resident district commissioners (RDCs) in West Nile to oversee the eviction of all herdsmen commonly known as Balaalo from the sub-region.
The President says the eviction must be concluded by mid-March, advising the Balaalo to return to their districts of origin.
The directive is a fulfillment of pledge he made last year to evict the herders following public outcry.
In November, President Museveni, while on a countrywide tour to rally the citizens to support the Land Amendment Bill, said he would direct the army to evict the cattle keepers at the beginning of this year.
While appearing on several talk shows in the sub-region, several callers requested him to intervene and bring to an end what they described as menace caused by the cattle keepers.
Residents accuse the Balaalo of destroying their gardens, grabbing land and harassing indigenous communities on the land where they graze their animals.
The Arua RDC, Mr Peter Debele, acknowledged receipt of the letter and warned that the army will forcibly evict those who do not comply with the directive. There are more than 25,000 herds of cattle belonging to the Balaalo in West Nile.
The Moyo District chairperson, Mr Williams Anyama, said the directive would strengthen the earlier council resolution to evict the cattle keepers.
“We had already passed a resolution on these cattle keepers because they have in the past years destroyed many crops due to uncontrolled grazing. So this is a good directive,” he said.
Several district councils had resolved to evict the cattle keepers but the leaders met stiff resistance from the RDCs and police who were against the eviction.
The Obongi County MP, Mr Hassan Fungaroo has been at the forefront of the eviction of the Balaalo from the sub-region.
Last year, the army and police intervened to stop the eviction, saying it was illegal.
However, the Yumbe District chairman, Mr Yasin Taban, said the directive will not apply to those Balaalo who look after the animals of the local people but to those who have moved into the region with their animals.
Other parts of the country have also turned against the herdsmen. Recently, leaders of Gulu, Omoro, Amuru, Nwoya, Pader, Oyam, Adjumani, Kitgum, Lamwo, and Agago districts directed that all Balaalo must leave by January 31.
In 2014, they secured an interim order from the High Court in Masindi, restraining Buliisa officials from evicting them from the district. The ruling stemmed from an application filed by 158 Balaalo against Gen David Ssejusa, the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, the Attorney General, the Buliisa County MP, Mr Stephen Birahwa among others, over illegal eviction from the land in Buliisa.