The Acholi Cultural Institution has advised politicians to concentrate on political issues, rather than keep interfering in the activities of chiefdom, which is always left to “put out the fires left burning by politicians,” especially on the issues concerning land in the region.
The coordinator of Ker-Kwaro Acholi, Mr. Santos Okema, said that politicians have remained a stumbling block in so far as the land issue is concerned.
“They misled the community and after that they have refused to embrace the principals and practices of customary tenure in Acholi that the chiefs have put in place in resolving the land conflicts amicably,” he added.
“It took us time to come up with such initiatives and its agenda was to silence land conflicts that has taken a new twist in the region,” Okema noted.
“They should resist from rocking us as an institution, we shall not be sacked into the political interest of divide and rule,” he said.
Okema accused the politicians of “preaching a confusing gospel that landed on already traumatized communities by telling them that land is the only asset left to them, so communities went wild up to the extent of claiming game reserves, hunting grounds, areas that where formal communal dialogue should be conducted; leaving children, PWDS and women even more vulnerable.”
The Prime Minister of Acholi Culture Institution, Mr. Kenneth Oketta, noted that politicians just wanted to be involved in everything that happens in the region.
He said that communities have haphazardly left internment camps for their former homes with a pre-conceived mindset of their land. This is why recently there is increasing land conflict in almost every village.
“As an institution our wellbeing is to see communities live peacefully and engaging in productive activities that will enable us live better lives,” he said.
However, Alima Joyce, Gulu's Deputy Speaker, noted that politicians need to work hand in hand with the cultural institution. “Joining hands in areas where harmony and development is seen is key, the council has instituted a committee of seven members to coordinate efforts with the institution,” he said.
The government in 2006 ordered “voluntary return to original sites” of all persons quarantined in internment camps. However, some people have not been able to return to their original homes for fear of land conflict, since their land has already been occupied by settlers or investors. Politicians have always accused chiefs in the Acholi sub region and formal LC courts of fueling land conflicts by accepting bribes and ruling in favour of those with influence and money.
The principals and practices of customary land tenure system in Acholi that was put in place by the 54 Acholi chiefs headed by the Paramount Chief, Rwot David Onen Acana II, to help people resolve land disputes peacefully was rejected by Gulu district council early this year since they believe that the people were not consulted on the matter.
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