Uganda: Tribal Tribulations and Tensions

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July 30, 2007: Uganda is having another bout of "sand versus the sown" ethnic warfare. The pastoralist Balaalo tribe have clashed with the Bagungu, who are farmers. Earlier this summer the Balaalo began moving their cattle to new pasturage and the movement crossed Bagungu farmland in Uganda's Buliisa district. The Bagungu accused the Balaalo of "trampling" their property. The Bagungu also told government leaders that their tribe has "lost confidence" in the Ugandan government's ability to protect them and their farms. One reason was a decision by a Ugandan court which ruled that the government could not immediately evict the Balaalo from Buliisa land. A Ugandan government official reported that the Bagungu were planning on attacking the Balaalo. President Yoweri Museveni then personally intervened to stop the violence. While the politics are complicated, Museveni appeared to back the Bagungus' damage claims. Tensions continue, but the last thing Uganda needs is another tribal conflict.

July 25, 2007: The rebel LRA (Lords Resistance Army) claimed that it needs an infusion of money in order to continue to participate in the on-going peace talks in Juba, Sudan. More delay tactics or a shakedown? Possibly. However, the LRA may have a legitimate case. The LRA statement said that it needs the money to pay for travel by LRA leaders. It also needs cash to fund other diplomatic activities involving "reconciliation" in northern Uganda. The LRA is also fighting the International Criminal Court's indictments of its senior leadership. That requires lawyers.

July 24, 2007: The Army said that a captain was killed in an ambush conducted by Karamojong tribesmen. Two soldiers were also wounded. The Ugandan force (part of the Army's 19th Battalion) reported it was chasing a "gang" that was planing a raid into Kenya. Most likely the raiders were going to steal cattle. Kenya has been reporting theft and assaults by raiders crossing the Uganda-Kenya border. Kenya and Uganda have both traded allegations about these attacks. Uganda claimed it arrested a Kenya security guard who was involved in a theft in Uganda. Kenya has said that the Ugandan Army has crossed the border into Kenya and that within the last month, rogue Ugandan soldiers had robbed a Kenya business. It is possible that Ugandan soldiers have chased cattle thieves cross the border.

July 19, 2007: The Karamojong disarmament campaign and weapons turn-in program has had some significant effects on the cost of weapons. The cost of an AK-47 has quadrupled since May 2006. Back then, you could buy an AK-47 in Karamojong land for $180-200. The going price now is around $750 (or 1.2 million Ugandan shillings). The price of ammunition has also increased. Why is this good news? It makes mayhem more expensive. When the Karamojong were rustling with spears, that was one kind of problem. Spears are deadly but they don't kill like automatic weapons.

 

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