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Apaa Dispute Probe Continues Despite Gov't Directives

The boundary dispute started in 2012 when Adjumani district council gazetted the area as East Madi Game Reserve, a move which was opposed by authorities in Amuru district, which equally claimed rights over the same land.
Dr Rugunda is Visiting Apaa on the Directive of the President

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The select committee investigating the Apaa Land dispute has said that its work will continue even after a government decision ejecting people from the area gazetted as part of the East Madi Game Reserve.  

The boundary dispute started in 2012 when Adjumani district council gazetted the area as East Madi Game Reserve, a move which was opposed by authorities in Amuru district, which equally claimed rights over the same land.

In 2015, the government forcefully planted mark stones in Apaa Village to demarcate boundaries amidst protests from Amuru residents. More than 21 people were injured when police used live bullets to disperse those opposed to the demarcation exercise.

In 2017, Minister Tom Butime declared that indeed was part of Adjumani. But the government maintained talks between the two sides, which however failed to agree on a common position during meetings held in Gulu in the course of last year. 

The Acholi team chaired by Dr Daniel Komakech, a renowned academician from Gulu University settled for degazettement of the disputed area for human settlement while the Madi team, on the other hand, settled for the relocation of the residents. 

As a result, the government resolved to provide financial and material support to all households in the disputed area to facilitate their resettlement and vacate the land for wildlife conservation. The announcement came at a time when Parliament is conducting a parallel investigation into the conflict in view of resolving it peacefully.  

Committee chairperson Agnes Ameede, however, says that the directive by the government does not stop their work. She says that instead they will finalize their investigations and report their findings, facts and recommendations to Parliament.  

"It does not affect our work, but for now unless the Speaker directs us to stop the investigations, we are coming up with a report. But some of the things Government is saying we will capture in our report so we will investigate the problems in the area” Ameede says.   

Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi faulted the government for usurping the mandate of parliament. He says that in the case of Apaa, the government should have waited for the select committee to complete its investigations and report to parliament. 

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The conflicts between the two communities have been continuously characterized by attacks of the occupants with machetes and arrows, torching of grass thatched houses, something that has led to the displacement of hundreds of residents of the area. 

Records indicate that more than 300 residents have so far been displaced as a result of the dispute.  Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah is expected to meet President Museveni and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda over Apaa land matters.  

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