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Museveni demands Kenya extradites Turkana herders for murder trial in Uganda

President Yoweri Museveni has demanded that Kenya hands over for trial Turkana herders, who allegedly killed five Ugandans in the volatile northeastern Karamoja region in March 2022.

Through Executive Order No.3 of 2023, issued on May 19 and released on Wednesday, to end illegal guns making their way into Uganda, the veteran leader gave the Turkana a six-month ultimatum to comply with the directive, short of which he would expel all Turkana and their herds from Uganda soil.

Those killed in the raid by suspected Turkana cattle rustlers included three geologists from the ministry of energy, one Uganda People’s Defence Forces officer and one soldier.

“The killers of the geologists must be handed back to us for trial for murder. The guns were handed back to the government of Uganda, but not the killers,” Museveni said in the order, whose tone is likely to test the relations between Uganda and President William Ruto’s administration.

President Museveni described the Turkana issue as “another destabilising factor” in his efforts to disarm the Karimojong warriors and keep secure the region that borders Kenya to the northwest.

He explained that on account of his government’s pan-Africanist ideology, the Turkana had been allowed to settle in Karamoja around the Kobebe dam where the problem of water has been solved but added that because in Kenya “they have not carried out disarmament”, the Turkana cross with guns.

Kobebe dam – a 2.3 million cubic-litres facility – was jointly commissioned in 2019 by President Museveni and his then-Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, as part of the cross-border initiatives supported by the United Nations Development Programme to ease access to water for the drought-hit Karimojong and Turkana pastoralist communities.

The Executive Order says that any Turkana entering Uganda with a gun would now be arrested and charged with terrorism by the military court.

The President also demands that the Kenyan pastoralists return some 2,245 cattle they allegedly raided from the Karimojong Jie community and face trial for murder and rape or be cleansed traditionally.

“If, however, the issue of the guns illegally entering Uganda, the handover of criminals who killed our geologists or the use of traditional justice and return of the stolen cattle are not solved, I have no alternative but to expel all the Kenyan Turkanas and their cattle and they will never be allowed to re-enter Uganda with their cows,” he ordered.

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