Gulu. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, has asked government to stop any form of eviction on Apaa land pending further investigation into the contentious land bordering Adjumani and Amuru districts.
His directives comes just days after President Museveni appointed him chairperson of a new committee tasked with finding a durable solution to Apaa land conflict.
Mr Oulanyah said government should stay any eviction if at all they are happening now so that better avenues are found to move people outside the conservation area.
Last week, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers, accompanied by police and Adjumani District local government officials, closed Apaa Market, leaving more than 1,500 vendors stranded in a move aimed at consolidating the East Madi Wildlife Game Reserve.
“If any eviction activity is going on in Apaa, it should stop now until further communication on what we should do with the movement of the people to get outside the conservation area so that there is smooth handling of the process,” Mr Oulanyah said.
He made the statement while briefing the reconstituted Apaa land committee members at his boardroom at Parliament on Tuesday.
Present at the meeting were Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Lands Minister Betty Amongi, Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Minister Hillary Onek, First Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali, Minister in charge of Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu and Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the Northern Uganda State Minister.
Mr Oulanyah told the committee that in their recent engagement with Dr Rugunda, they found out there was need to handle the Apaa land issue with finality because previous efforts to try and bring it to conclusion have failed.
“We have been tasked to look at what is going on in Apaa to see if we can come out with some recommendation on how implementation of decisions that have been made or decision that can be changed or whatever we can find to make the implementation of eventually clearing the conservation area possible and smooth without affecting people,” he said.
Mr Oulanyah also asked that in the interim period, there should be no more movement for settlement into Apaa area, including both Zoka and Apaa itself, which has been confirmed to be in a conservation area.
He called for calm from all the affected parties.
He also noted that as part of plans to sensitize the community on their new roles, they will have a radio talk show on Thursday that will be relayed on all radio stations within the affected region.
Eviction. Last week, government announced that it had given final orders to the locals settled on the gazetted East Madi Wildlife Reserve in Apaa to vacate, sparking off outcry from locals and leaders in the region.