Members of parliament from Karamoja, Bugisu and Teso sub-regions have accused security agencies for shunning the mandate to protect the people while at the same time misrepresenting the security situation the North and Eastern regions which they say has deteriorated to alarming levels.
The MPs under the umbrella Karamoja, Bugisu and Teso Parliamentary Groups also accused the UPDF for allowing criminality to thrive in their regions and profiteering from insecurity as their people continue to suffer at the hands of criminals.
While speaking at a press conference held today in parliament, the MPs led by Remegio Achia (Pian County MP) condemned the “criminalization” of the entire region and demand for a comprehensive audit of the security situation in their regions which they say has spiraled in the watch of a professional army.
The new development follows a statement released by the Ministry of Defense this week implying that the security situation in Karamoja sub-region is under control following a spate of armed violence including murders, raids and theft of livestock. The MPs say the statements by Defense spokesperson Brig. Gen. Felix Kulayigye were reckless and far from the reality of a deteriorating situation that has of late spread to neighboring regions of Teso, Sebei, Lango, Acholi and Bugisu.
“We condemn the criminalization of the entire region , a thing that has not only led to the loss of over 3000 law-abiding citizens and thousands of hard-earned livestock and property, and driven thousands of children into destitution in the streets of urban centers.” part of press statement issued by the MPs reads.
“We are aware that the mandate of the security agencies is to preserve, defend and protect lives of the Karamojong and their property like they do in any part of the country. This is not the case as they always want to paint a picture of success when in actual fact they need to stop and question how wanton violence and full-scale return to conflict is being experienced..” The statement adds.
The MPs allege that army operations to fight cattle rustling in Karamoja have been “commercialized” with the army not fully accounting for the livestock recovered from criminals during operations, as some livestock are ferried out of the region in the dead of the night instead of returning them to rightful owners.
“Whereas there are claims by security forces that they have recovered 17,706 heads of cattle during the stated period, these cattle have not been handed over to the owners. Most of the livestock disappeared in the watch of the UPDF, either transported in the night in absence of roadblocks, or they are escorted by the UPDF.” The statement adds.
Thy claim even those who have been tasked with securing the lives and property of the Karamojong have chosen to become part of escalation of the conflict just because there is something they also walk away with every time the raid is successful.
The MPs now demand for recovery and or return of stolen livestock and prevention of trafficking exit routes and commit to support government in processes to restore security and confidence in Karamoja through strategic deployment of security forces, while devising measures to protect livestock including the proper use of protected Kraal system. They also demand for removal of illegal weapons in the hands of civilians.