Why resolving the Apaa land conflict remains a crucial step towards lasting stability in northern Uganda

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is the best solution to deal with the Apaa land dispute.

President Museveni made the remarks last week at State House Entebbe during the swearing-in of members of the Commission who were appointed on 3rd April 2023. The Districts of Adjumani and Amuru in Northern Uganda have been at the centre of conflict over the land in question.

“The best medicine for the Apaa land dispute is a Commission of Inquiry. Why? Because, in all our other efforts, people play with us. The commission has got powers of a Court,” he said.

President Museveni noted that when the commission summons a person, they must respond positively or face consequences.

The members sworn-in are the Chairperson, the former Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Hon. Justice Alice Mpagi Bahigaine, Hon Justice Steven George Engwau, Ms. Joyce Gunze Hasasa and Dr. Fred Henry Bateganya.

The lead Counsel is George Omunyokol and the Secretary is Imelda Adongo.

The Apaa Land Conflict: A Complex Quagmire

For years, the Apaa land conflict has cast a shadow of instability over northern Uganda, posing a significant challenge to both the local communities and the government. The dispute over land ownership and boundaries has resulted in clashes, displacement, and loss of livelihoods, making the resolution of this conflict an urgent priority. As the region strives for sustainable development and peace, addressing the Apaa land conflict is essential for creating a foundation of stability.

The Apaa land conflict revolves around competing claims over land between the Acholi and Madi communities. This dispute has deep historical and socio-economic roots, with both sides asserting their rights to the fertile and resource-rich land in the Apaa area. The conflict has not only fueled tensions between these communities but has also led to violent confrontations, deaths, and destruction of property, perpetuating a cycle of instability.

Impact on Communities

The conflict’s impact on the local communities has been profound. Displacement, loss of livelihoods, and the destruction of homes and infrastructure have become distressingly common. Families have been uprooted from their ancestral lands, and entire communities have been forced to live in uncertainty and fear. The conflict’s social and economic toll has hindered the region’s development prospects, exacerbating poverty and hindering efforts to rebuild lives.

Humanitarian Consequences and Displacement

Displacement resulting from the Apaa land conflict has triggered a humanitarian crisis. Displaced families often lack access to basic services, including clean water, health facilities, and education. This situation has left vulnerable populations, including women and children, struggling to survive in overcrowded camps, straining already limited resources.

Urgent Need for Resolution

The Apaa land conflict is a critical impediment to peace and stability in northern Uganda. The perpetuation of violence and insecurity hinders the region’s potential for progress and development. Swift and effective resolution of the conflict is essential not only to address the immediate humanitarian concerns but also to lay the groundwork for sustainable peace and prosperity.

The path forward

Resolving the Apaa land conflict requires a multi-faceted approach that involves comprehensive land demarcation, inclusive dialogue between the conflicting parties, and robust community engagement. It is crucial that local perspectives, historical context, and cultural sensitivities are taken into account during negotiations. The government, civil society organizations, and international partners must work collaboratively to ensure that the rights and aspirations of all affected communities are respected.

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