Josephat Nanok, Turkana County governor and John Byabagambi, Minister for Karamoja affairs during the cross border meeting in Moroto. Photo by Olandason Wanyama
The Minister for Karamoja Affairs John Byabagambi has asked for forgiveness from the families of Turkana victims killed in Kaabong district last week.
The three victims were murdered in cold blood by suspected Dodoth criminals. So far one of as been arrested and is in police custody.
“On behalf of the government of Uganda, I wish to say sorry to the families in Turkana who lost their valued sons,” he noted.
Byabagambi said the government of Uganda was committed to ensuring that the suspects are produced in court.
The Minister apologized on Thursday at a cross border meeting between Turkana and Karamoja leaders held at Moroto district chamber hall.
Byabagambi further said the government was committed to ensuring that such mistakes are not made.
“We are doing our best to make sure the Uganda-Kenya border is more peaceful than ever,” he said.
The Turkana County governor Josephat Nanok welcomed the gesture, highlighting the strong relations Kenya has with Uganda.
Byabagambi said the disarmament in Karamoja is now under the peace-building phase coupled with some development.
He said achieving sustainable peace, leaders must ensure there no more guns in the region, asking Turkana to surrender guns to the relevant authorities.
“We shall not achieve peace if guns are still in the hands of our neighbours,” he said.
He advised the Turkana leaders to move the Karamoja direction if the locals cannot handover the guns to government.
Byabagambi said guns are preserve of the armed forces saying if you have a gun then you have voluntarily recruited yourself in the armed forces.
The minister recalled the headache that Karamoja lawmakers gave government in 2001 as Parliament debated the removal of guns from the Karimojong.
“These people are now enjoying peace yet they did not want the idea,” he said.
Byabagambi said the disarmament exercise is still on-going but at the same time looking at development.
He identified projects that are ongoing in Karamoja saying the road linking Moroto-Nakapiripirit districts has been tarmacked. Others are Soroti-Lokitanyala at the Uganda-Kenya border is under construction adding that the next financial year Nakapiripirit town will be linked to Mbale.
Byabagambi urged the Karimojong not to kill the existing peace adding that the army should work hard to sustain the serenity in the region.
The chairman Karamoja Parliamentary caucus Samson Lokeris also apologized on behalf of the people of Kaabong for death of the Turkana.
He urged the Karimojong to look at how they survive the next day other than committing atrocities.
Lokeris appealed to politicians to desist making statements that disrupt the wellbeing of the communities saying this could result into more infectious issues. Leaders should speak one language. How do we provide roads, water, and electricity to the people instead instilling violence,” he said.
Lokeris added that the Turkana have no problems apart from looking for pasture and water for their animals.
He said God will not come down to work for the people except we the leaders.
Nanok congratulated the Uganda government for the removal of illegal guns in Karamoja describing the exercise as befitting Turkana.
“I was told that immediately the bloodshed stopped in Karamoja the heavens also opened,” he noted adding that the weather changed to suit the people’s lives.
Nanok said the East African Integration is more visible now at the Uganda-Kenya border adding that people are carrying on with quick businesses and visiting friends.
“There is no other place in East Africa other than the borders that have embraced the protocol,” he said.
Nanok said for years Turkana has done nothing for itself but now it’s time to fix infrastructure, ensure people are on the move.
He decried the severe drought in Turkana that has disrupted the livelihoods of the pastoralists saying the situation continues to worsen with animals have nothing to eat.
“The only surviving animals in Turkana are the camels and goats,” he said adding that cows and donkeys that eat grass are worst hit.
Nanok further congratulated the government for allowing in over 30,000 Turkana with their animals inside Uganda.
The crisis meeting was attended by over 60 Turkana county government officials, development partners, lawmakers in both countries and Karamoja leaders.