Adjumani MPs protest Oulanyah’s appointment to chair Presidential committee on Apaa land

Members of Parliament from Adjumani district have asked the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah to relinquish the leadership of a new committee probing the Apaa land dispute.

The dispute started in 2012 when the Adjumani district council gazetted the area as East Madi Game Reserve, a move which was opposed by authorities in Amuru district, who equally claimed rights over the same land. It has taken twists and turns over the years, resulting in loss of lives and property.

Recently, the government announced that it had taken a decision to evict all settlers from the game reserve, a decision which would favour the Madi community that had earlier on asked the government to resettle all persons occupying the land in question.

The Acholi Community was rooting for the degazettement of the disputed area for human settlement.

But in another move to resolve the conflict, President Yoweri Museveni appointed Oulanyah to head Presidential committee on Apaaa land.

On the same committee is Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda as Vice Person and Second Deputy Premier Gen Moses Ali, Ministers Betty Amongi, Hillary Onek, Ephraim Kamuntu, and Sam Cheptoris as members.

Adjumani MPs however view Oulanyah as biased in the conflict that pits the Madi Community of Adjumani against the Acholi community from Amuru.

Oulanyah, the Member of Parliament for Omoro County, belongs to the Acholi Community.

Adjumani woman MP Jessica Ababiku says Oulanyah is not neutral and, as such, does not have the moral authority to lead the committee.

Adjumani East MP Mark Angel Dullu equally demanded that the president sticks to decisions of the initial mediation team led by Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, which agreed that all people be evicted from the game reserve and resettled elsewhere.

“This is our leader in Parliament, now he is chairing it from outside, what if it comes back to Parliament, who will be now the one to chair? Are we going to elect another Speaker to preside over? In any case, Parliament was technically defeated,” Dullu said.

Oulanyah scorned his accusers saying that he does not serve any interest except that of the affected people adding that he cannot individually direct the committee to a position that has not been agreed upon.

“I have to do everything to deserve both the confidence of the appointing authority and the confidence of the people for whom I am supposed to find a solution. The responsibility is enormous, but let me tell you something, I am not wavered, I will not be deterred, I will not be derailed, I will not be diverted, I will remain focused,” Oulanyah said.

To avoid conflict of interest, Oulanyah said, once the matter comes to the floor of Parliament, he will leave the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to chair the discussions to avoid any issues as the chairperson of the investigating committee.

“I am not the only Speaker in the House, if the issue comes to the House and it relates to this matter, I will not chair the proceedings. I have already participated in processes that have led somewhere. So, I will be sitting in the chair to determine what happens with it; it will now have to be the Speaker herself to handle it,” Oulanyah said.

“Somebody has to deal with this thing, and for now, I have been asked to deal with it, I will do it and I will do it well,” he added,

Conflicts between the two communities have been continuously characterized by attacks of the occupants with machetes and arrows, torching of grass thatched houses and the displacement of residents.