Peace run aims to ease border tension

Hundreds of people from communities living in the border areas between Uganda and Kenya will on Saturday participate in a marathon in the northeastern Ugandan district of Moroto, in a bid to promote peace in the region.

The communities frequently raid each other's villages to rustle cattle.

"We will use the occasion to tell the pastoral communities that they can co-exist peacefully and do not have to kill each other in cattle raids," Peter Lokeris, Uganda's minister in charge of Karamoja development, told IRIN on Thursday.

"At least 120 Ugandans will participate in the peace race," he added.

Uganda’s northeastern Karamoja region is notoriously lawless, and the frequent cattle raids between the Karimojong and their neighbours on the Kenyan side of the border, the Turkana and the Pokot, often result in death and destruction of property.

The race is jointly organised by the Loroupe Foundation, established by renowned Kenyan athlete and peace activist, Tegla Loroupe, and Uganda's Karamoja Peace Programme.

Lokeris said other participants would come from Kenya's Turkana and Pokot communities, as well as from Ethiopia, adding that prizes worth about US $20,000 would be awarded to the winners.

Cattle rustling among pastoral communities that live along the Uganda-Kenya-Sudan borders has turned increasingly bloody in the recent past, as warriors from those ethnic groups have discarded traditional weapons like bows and arrows in favour of illegally acquired guns.

The Kenyan minister in charge of internal security, John Michuki, said his government would start seizing weapons from the Kenyan communities.

He added that he was in consultation with the Ugandan government to have a similar exercise undertaken simultaneously on the other side of the border.

In 2001 Uganda began to forcibly disarm the Karimojong, but few weapons were recovered.

Ugandan army spokesman, Maj Shaban Bantariza, said since December last year, 700-800 guns had been recovered through a voluntary disarmament programme.