Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) soldiers have taken over the census enumeration exercise in three disputed villages between Amuru and Gulu district.
The soldiers from the 4th division barracks in Gulu acted on a request by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) following reports of tension that had disrupted the exercise in the villages of Mede, Oroko and Gwayi.
The village in the sub counties of Atiak and Palaro host an estimated 2000 people.
Initial reports indicated that the leadership of Atiak Sub County had rejected data collected from more than 10 households inhabited by an estimated 50 people claiming that they had been illegitimately recorded by enumerators from neighboring Palaro Sub County in Gulu district.
Ochan John Bosco, the Atiak Sub county Chairperson says they couldn’t endorse the data as coded by the UBOS because this could provoke incitement on the enduring battle of ownership of the said area.
The enumerators in charge had also been registered under Palaro Sub County.
Cultural leaders from the disputed areas have also failed to neutralize the dispute. Ochan says geographical maps indicate that the villages belong to Atiak Sub County but Palaro has refused to relent on its claims to own the fertile swathes of land since 2006.
Ochan says they have now accepted neutral enumerators from UPDF to conduct the exercise in the area, pending resolution of the dispute.
Captain Mark Mutono, the UPDF 4th Division Public Relations Officer says they were informed that residents in the said villages were hostile to the civilian enumerators prompting authorities to dispatch UPDF enumerators to take charge of the process.
He says leaders of the two disputing sub counties are being engaged to support the process and appreciate the role of the UPDF in the 10-day exercise.
Captain Mutono says this is the only special enumeration area outside military installations that the UPDF has stepped in countrywide.
He says with known data of UPDF soldiers in foreign missions, the exercise is only being conducted among those within the confines of Uganda.
Mutono says the area has been cordoned off as a special enumeration area. He says the soldiers conducting the exercise are being manned by a Captain who details are obscured.
By press time, an emergency security meeting between leaders from Gulu and Amuru, Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and the UPDF locked up in a meeting in Palaro Sub County headquarters to chart ways of peacefully and successfully concluding the exercise in the disputed areas.