Conflicting pastoral communities in Karamoja have achieved 85% peaceful co-existence
Local leaders in the Karamoja cluster which comprises of Turkana, Karimojong, Toposa and Pokot have said the pastoral communities have not had peace for decades, an issue that has necessitated them to engage in cross border peace dialogues.
However in efforts to ensure peaceful co-existence the formerly conflicting pastoral communities now claim they have achieved 85 percent of the peace in the region, once characterized with armed conflict and rustling.
Speaking on Thursday evening at the cross –border senior government leaders’ forum held at Karamoja livelihood programme hall located in Moroto town, the state minister for Karamoja affairs Moses Kizige said the relationship amongst the communities has not been good.
“I want to say that the relations within the pastoral communities from Turkana, Pokot, Karamoja and those of Toposa has not been good,” he noted adding that since we initiated the peace dialogues life has improved.
Kizige said, as government the cross border initiatives are treated as significant thus commended the security agencies who have kept the peace along the Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya borders.
The minister explained that governments in the great lakes region have been preaching peace for decades but if we realize the dividends now, we should sustain the initiatives by government.
Kizige also congratulated the communities in the Karamoja cluster for the struggle to have peace saying governments are now looking forward to development within the pastoral communities.
The meeting was held under the theme, “Right to peace.”The Turkana county governor Josephat Nanok said Kenya and Uganda are committed to peace.
“This is a very big commitment that should not be ignored,” he noted adding that the border peace has greatly improved over the years.
Nanok said, “even if we have some problems in other corridors but the Karamoja-Turkana corridor has greatly improved. We may not be seeing what is happening but the positive support is to ensure we move forward with peace.”
The governor congratulated the traders operating within the Karamoja – Turkana corridor for boosting trade saying the cluster holds a lot of potential.
Nanok encouraged traders and the communities to interact more on economic investments as a tool to maintain the prevailing peace in Karamoja- Turkana and Pokot areas.
“We should not allow peace spoilers to prevail in the cluster once again, “he noted.
The former District chairperson Moroto Aol Mark Musooka said a lot had been realised between Turkana and Karamoja on issues of peace.
He congratulated the government of Uganda and Kenya for their interventions through the armies to protect life and property.
“I want to say the Kenya defense forces and the Uganda peoples’ defense forces – UPDF have done a great deal in the fight for peace,” Musooka said.
The UPDF 3rd Division commander Brig. Gen. Richard Otto said the army will not again relax with negative alliances.
“Our deployment within Karamoja is permanent,’ he said adding that army presence in Karamoja is good for the enforcement of the law.
Otto said guns now in Karamoja have turned into a taboo asking the communities to desist from keeping rifles in their homes.
“We get you with a gun, we shall prosecute you either in civilian or military court depending on the charge,” he said.
Otto congratulated peace committees in Karamoja, specifically from Kotido for their effectiveness in recovery of animals and fighting crime.
“I want to say Kotido has so far performed well on issues peace compared to other district in the region,” he added.
Karamoja senior government leaders’ forum comprises of leaders from Turkana, West Pokot and Karamoja who converge annually to discuss achievements and challenges of peace in the Karamoja cluster.
It’s always held ahead of annual Lokiriama peace accord celebrations that have set pace since 1973, on the auspices of the Karamoja and Turkana elders.