In a significant development, warriors in the Karamoja region are gradually embracing the voluntary handover of guns, thanks to dialogues conducted by top security commanders with the warriors. At least four guns have been voluntarily handed over to security forces in the last week, spanning the districts of Napak, Kaabong, and Kotido.
Lt Col Richard Butungi, representing Maj Gen Don William Nabasa, the 3 Division Commander of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), received a gun from Emmanuel Anyakun, a resident of Lomoruchubai village, Loleet Parish, Lorengecora sub-county. This event took place at UPDF’s 3 Division headquarters in Moroto Barracks over the weekend.
In addition, Igira Lourian and Ekude Apalosira, both residents of Kamuru Sub-county in Kotido district, handed over two guns to Maj Emmy Kafureka, the Commanding Officer of the 43 Infantry Battalion. Another gun was handed over by Loiki Ekeno Simon, a resident of Lotim sub-county in Kaabong District, and it was received by Lt Col Gaston Mugarura, the Commanding Officer of the 45 Infantry Battalion.
The initiative of voluntarily handing over guns is being encouraged, with certificates of acknowledgment being provided to those who participate. “We encourage the gesture of voluntary approach to disarmament operations. As we give you certificates, you are now free men and I urge you to persuade other Karacunas to do the same,” said Lt Col Butungi.
Reformed warrior John Maruk from Kaabong District highlighted that while they willingly handed over guns, they faced challenges in finding alternative means of survival and were disappointed by delayed incentives promised by the government. Maruk also mentioned concerns about being arrested and mistreated after handing over guns, which discouraged others from following suit.
Elias Kassirabo, the Commandant of the Anti Stock Theft Unit (ASTU), urged reformed warriors to seek forgiveness from victims, especially those who suffered due to raids, maiming, loss of lives, and cattle thefts. Kassirabo also called for patience from the reformed warriors in regard to the government’s implementation of development programs.
The recent success in the voluntary handover of guns comes amidst efforts led by top commanders of disarmament operations and senior leaders across the sub-region to promote security, community mobilization, and positive mindset change. These campaigns aim to utilize the amnesty window to foster a safer and more stable environment in the region.