Gulu Leaders Urge Army to Use LCs in Disarmament Exercise

2438 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The army last week launched another phase of the disarmament exercise in the northern district of Gulu that it says will be jointly carried out with the police and other security agencies.

Local leaders in northern Uganda have asked government to use the local council system in its efforts to rid the region of illicit firearms.

The call stems from last week’s re-launch of the second phase of the disarmament exercise in northern Uganda by the army.

The army last week launched another phase of the disarmament exercise in the northern district of Gulu that it says will be jointly carried out with the police and other security agencies.

But the local leaders in Gulu say the exercise can only succeed if the army and the police use the local council officials to implement it.

Retired Lt. Peter Ochan, a former representative of army veterans in the ruling National Resistance Movement-National Executive Committee-NEC, says that the LCs should play an instrumental role in the disarmament exercise because they know those who have illegal arms in their areas of jurisdiction.

Ochan says the local council secretaries for defense should be enlisted in the program to provide intelligence to the security officials on who is holding illegal firearms.

According to Ochan, the illegal firearms that are still in Acholi and other areas in northern Uganda are from former combatants and those that were legally armed by the army to work as security operatives. He challenges the army to first cross check and verify the records of the guns that were given out to security operatives at the peak of the rebellion.

Ochan explains that there are some operatives who were given guns but never returned them and are now using them to terrorize the public.

He also says ex-combatants should be targeted because some of them allegedly surrendered but did not hand over their weapons.

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Patrick Komakech, the LC5 councilor for Bungatira sub-county, says the LC’s will create an impact in the exercise by providing security agencies with information on the whereabouts of illegal firearms. He also says the security agencies should widen the exercise to include demining.

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It’s not known how many illegal firearms were recovered during the first phase of the exercise.

But John Bosco Ozelle says cases of murder by shooting have decreased following the involvement of the police in community policing. He says since the beginning of the year only two cases of murder by shooting has been registered in Gulu.

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