MORULINGA STATE LODGE, NAPAK DISTRICT:
“My reason of coming here is because of the re-insurgence of insecurity in Karamoja and in the neighbouring districts but emanating from Karamoja,” President Museveni said as he started addressing political leaders, Security personnel, religious leaders and Opinion leaders from Karamoja region at his Morulinga State Lodge in Napak District.
In a meeting aimed at devising means of ending cattle rustling that has wrecked havoc leaving a trail of death, destruction and threatening the prevailing peace and security in the region and the surrounding areas, President Museveni says the mutating crime, which has now turned commercial and involves an intricate network of criminals in the region is fuelled by illegal guns and must be stopped.
According to Mr Museveni, the main problem is lack of orientation in many elements of the population of Karamoja who up to now have not appreciated the need for peace and prosperity despite government intervention.
He said whereas over 40,000 guns have been recovered through both peaceful and forceful means, many Karimajongs have continued to illegally own guns and have become a security threat.
Museveni vowed to end commercial cattle rustling and asked leaders in Karamoja to help change the attitude of their people through preaching prosperity.
“We are going to roll out a very powerful response to eradicate this vice. But I would like to appeal to the Karimajong people to help us get rid of this mistake by solving their own mistake…which is thinking that you can be prosperous through cattle rustling and secondly, wanting revenge for yourself,” Museveni said.
Museveni noted, that through an intelligence led operation now rolled out by the forces in all the 9 districts of Karamoja (Moroto, Napak, Kotido, Nakapiripit, Kaabong, Abim, Amudat, Karenga and Nabilatuk) and targeting five (5) groups including criminals with guns, those with bows and arrows, those with sticks to drive the cows, the collaborators who are in different districts but connected and linking up with the rustlers and any other suspects connected to the raids, they will not leave any stone unturned.
“I would like the leaders to support this effort. If any of the five categories wants to surrender, he should bring the gun voluntarily so we don’t have to look for them and then he will benefit from amnesty,” Museveni said.
The UPDF 3rd division commander, Brig Gen Joseph Balikuddembe said since the launch of Usalama kwa wote operation in Karamoja and the neighbouring districts a total of 106 guns and 82 rounds of ammunition. In addition, several suspects have been arraigned before Court while others are pending to appear before court martial. The guns recovered are distributed by district as follows; Abim (00), Amudat (1), Kaabong (29), Karenga (3), Kotido (17), Moroto (26), Nabilatuk (7), Nakapiripirit (2) and Napak (21).
“As a result of this intensified operation, there’s a drastic reduction in criminality both in Karamoja and the neighbouring sub counties,” Gen Balikuddembe said.
President Museveni called upon security forces to ensure anybody caught raiding is apprehended.
“I’m here really to make sure this time we end this. My aim is to have no raiding at all. There should be no raiding at all,” Museveni stressed, adding that they are going to increase the capacity of the K9 units of the police because dogs have proven capacity to trace criminals involved in cattle rustling, especially using guns.
The President also blamed some elements in government for not listening to people’s grievances.
“You government leaders should stop that habit of not listening carefully to your people and failing to expeditiously solve their problems without any explanation,” Museveni said.
On prosperity, the President noted that the population of Karamoja would be much bigger than it is now if peace in the region was maintained but it has been let down by its own people. He said the infant mortality rate of Karamoja now stands at 72 deaths per 100,000 live births, way higher than the national figures of 43 per 100,000 births.
Statistics also indicate that in Karamoja, mothers who die while giving birth (Maternal mortality) are 588 out of 100,000, way above the national figures of 336 per 100,000.
On education, Museveni said despite the fact that 38.5% of children in Uganda complete primary education, in Karamoja only 6.8% complete primary seven, partly due to insecurity and interference with government programs. “So, how is the gun helping you,” Museveni wondered.
He supported the idea of free and compulsory education in the region as suggested by leaders, who said poverty is hindering many from finishing primary education.
“That’s a very good idea. It’s not only good for Karamoja but even other parts of the country which need free and compulsory education. In the coming years, let’s discuss it within the NRM party and see how to really budget for it. Because when we introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE) it was supposed to be free,” Museveni said.
Other requests to which the President agreed to with the leaders include establishment of Karamoja University, construction of security roads for which a contractor has already been secured and establishment of a cement factory in Moroto.
“We are going to put a cement factory here. I was struggling with the power, but now that it has come, the factory will be set up,” the President said.
The meeting was also attended and addressed by the Vice President Maj Gen (Rtd) Jessica Alupo Epel, the deputy Chief of Defense Forces Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, and Political leaders.
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