MOROTO – Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF has given Turkana pastoralists from Kenya in Moroto district a two-week ultimatum to surrender firearms in their possession or cross back to Kenya with their livestock.
On Monday, the UPDF 3rd Division Commander, Brig. Joseph Balikudembe issued the ultimatum while meeting hundreds of Turkana and Karimojong pastoralists in Naput village in the Rupa sub-county in Moroto district.
Brig Balikudembe observed that most of the firearms destabilizing the peace in Karamoja originate from Turkana land in Kenya. He said that Turkana warriors have been selling firearms to Karimojong who use them to raid other peaceful communities, including the Turkana pastoralists.
“We as security agencies know how you the Turkana and the Karimojong have been trading in arms. So we are asking you to stop and hand over those guns you have been using for committing crimes to the army. If you don’t want to do that we shall have no option but to send you back to Kenya,” he said.
Turkana pastoralists often cross to Uganda with their livestock in search of water and pasture. Karamoja region is currently home to about 3,000 Turkana pastoralists grazing an estimated over 100,000 animals since 2007.
Brig. Balikudembe says that the ongoing disarmament operations will also target the kraals of Turkana pastoralists, saying those found with guns will be arrested and charged using Ugandan laws.
Mzee Zakary Ekeno, the Turkana community kraal leader in Karamoja thanked the Ugandan government for always allowing them to cross and graze their animals in Uganda. He assured the security personnel that he will take the lead to ensure that armed Turkana pastoralists surrender them peacefully to security.
Imman Icor, the Director of peace in the Turkana County government said the county leadership will work with the Uganda government to deal with the few people on their side trying to destabilize the peaceful co-existence between the Turkana and Karamojong.
“Without Uganda, all the Kenyan Turkana cows would have all died due to a shortage of pasture and water and we thank the Uganda government for that,” he said.