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Elders Ask Gov’t to Withhold Monthly Emolument to Acholi Cultural Institution :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Elders Ask Gov’t to Withhold Monthly Emolument to Acholi Cultural Institution

According to Okello Okello, the cultural institution is still embroiled in a conflict between chiefs arguing that the government shouldn't continue to disburse money to the institution until the conflict is resolved.
Rosalba Oywa (L) makes a point during a press briefing on Monday in Gulu city flanked by Livingstone Okello Okello (C) and Retired Supreme Court Judge Galdino Okello (R).

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A section of leaders and elders from the Acholi Sub-region have called on the government to withhold emoluments to Ker Kwaro Acholi (the Acholi Cultural Institution) until conflicts between warring chiefs are resolved.

The call is part of six key resolutions a 15-man negotiation committee comprised of elders in the sub-region made on Sunday in Gulu City.

In July last year, a power rift broke out at the Acholi Cultural Institution after Rwot Santos Apire, the Atiak Chiefdom head conspired with a section of chiefs demanding the resignation of Acholi Paramount Chief David Onen Acana II from office. 

The rival chiefs listed among other allegations of corruption, abuse of office, registration of the cultural institution as a business entity, and lack of a working constitution as their grievances.  

In attempts to resolve the impasse at the cultural institution, a 15-man negotiation committee team of elders chaired by former Chua County Legislator John Livingstone Okello Okello was formed. The committee among them Retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Okello Galdino had three main objectives to de-escalate the conflict, establish the causes, and prepare the ground for dialogue.

Okello, however, told journalists on Monday in Gulu City that while the negotiation team was able to meet with the faction of Rwot Richard Santo Apire, several attempts to meet with Rwot Acana failed.

He said the negotiation committee over the weekend came out with some resolutions after Rwot Acana failed to honor their request among them, was a call to the government to stop the emolument given to the cultural institution. 

According to Okello Okello, the cultural institution is still embroiled in a conflict between chiefs arguing that the government shouldn't continue to disburse money to the institution until the conflict is resolved.

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The cultural institution head gets a monthly payment of 5 million shillings from the government to help in the execution of duties at the institution. However recently, the Parliament approved a 60 million shillings monthly salary payment to traditional and cultural leaders, a directive that was issued by President Museveni.

But Rosalba Oywa, a retired teacher and opinion leader in Gulu City notes that from their understanding, the emolument being sent by the government is being used at a personal level which has fueled the conflict. She says further disbursement of the funds at a time when the institution is unstable will brew more conflict adding that the government has to withhold payments until the impasses are resolved. 

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Other resolutions the elders came up with include the need to institute an inclusive process that will lead to the formulation of a legitimate constitution to govern the cultural institution. At the height of the power rift between the rival chiefs last year, the faction led by Rwot Richard Santo Apire after allegedly making consultations with chiefs released a draft constitution for the Acholi Cultural Institution in December last year.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Galdino Okello however says the constitution can’t be relied on since only one party drafted it adding that a legitimate constitution needs to be formulated after conflicts have been resolved.

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The elders also over the weekend resolved that the current title of Lawirodwi (Paramount chief) being used is illegal alleging that it had already been expunged by the Acholi District Council in 1961 and replaced by Laloyo Maber (a good leader).

Okello Okuna, the Acting Acholi Cultural Institution Prime Minister however told Uganda Radio Network Tuesday that the resolution is biased and doesn’t in any way represent a move towards resolving the alleged conflicts.

Okuna noted that while the elders accused the Paramount Chief of failing to honor their request for a meeting, the cultural institution observed that the choice of negotiators was biased. 

“When there is any mediation happening, the two warring parties must agree on the choice of a mediator, In the event you are not comfortable with the person, or the team mediating, it becomes impossible to move on with the negotiation,” says Okuna.

Okuna also dismissed allegations that the cultural institution mismanaged resources arguing that the accusations were baseless and meant to tarnish the image of the Paramount chief.