The Conundrum of President Museveni’s Directive On Balaalo

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While in Amuru district with leaders from the Acholi sub-region, President Museveni recently renewed his call for Balaalo to vacate the Sub-regions of West Nile and Acholi.

The President guided in four thematic areas. For purposes of this piece, though I will comment on the first two and I wish to reproduce them verbatim for context purposes, he guided firstly;

‘’… I directed the UPDF Division Commander, RPC, and the Minister of Northern Uganda to ensure that anybody with cows in an unfenced area in Acholi, Lango, and West Nile sub-regions leave immediately but in any case not later than three weeks from today.’’

Lastly; ‘’ … I’ll hold further discussions at a later date with the two groups (those aligned to the executive order No. 3 & those who are not) on the issue of ownership and renting in the region.’’

The directive leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, on the former, it is so ambiguous to those intending or were directed to operationalize it in the sense that if it aims to chase away Balaalo, how about the Acholians, Langoans, etc, that happen to be having cows on unfenced land, will they also be chased away?

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And if the answer is an affirmative where will they be shifted to considering many it is their permanent residency they call home?

On the latter, isn’t the President’s directive in contradiction with international laws and national laws such as Article 13 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDH) which provides that everyone has a right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state?

Article 17 (1) of UDH which is to the effect that everyone has a right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

These very articles are reproduced word by word by the Supreme Law of the land, the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda of 1995 (as amended) in articles like 29 (2) (a) which allows Ugandans to move freely throughout Uganda and to reside and settle in any part of Uganda.

And Article 26 stipulates a right to own property as individuals or in association. Aren’t Balaalo Ugandans with equal rights as the rest of Ugandans?

How about those various laws that bar discrimination stashed in various international and national laws? If the President continues to wake up with such directives and they are effected, will Article 2 (1) of the Ugandan constitution which states that this Constitution is the supreme law of Uganda and shall have binding force on all the authorities and the persons throughout Uganda still be relevant?

I like to believe unless I am persuaded otherwise, by a constitutional interpretation by relevant stakeholders that is the constitutional court that by “all persons” the framers of the Constitution indeed meant all persons the President inclusive.

Will the government compensate those Balaalo who happen to have acquired their land genuinely and are willing to adhere to the President’s directive and if yes, under what justification will the Government front to relevant stakeholders with keys of Public purse?

And where are they going to be settled again that won’t ensure conflict in the long run (bagoingewa?)?

How about if other regions start also chasing West-Nilers and Acholis, will the President come to their countenance too?

And isn’t this a contradiction to his Pan-Africanism Agenda which I believe has an ethos of encouraging Africans to settle wherever they feel like in the continent?

Lastly, I like to believe that the State House has a legal department and presidential advisors besides the Attorney General, they should guide the president on some of these contentious matters for the harmony of the nation.


Musekura Kennedy
Musekura Kenedy

Musekura Kennedy is a Student at the Law Development Centre (LDC) and is currently under clerkship at the Court of Appeal of Uganda.

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