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Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Conflict, Displacement and Transformation | Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

In the wake of return to relative peace in Acholi region, northern Uganda, from 2006, land matters have taken centre stage. After having been displaced into camps for many years, people have started to go back home. Their return is complicated by many factors, including above all, land disputes. While the Ugandan constitution and land legislation protects customary tenure, the social and economic institutions that uphold this tenure regime have been severely weakened as a result of war and displacement. The combination of demographic changes following large-scale displacement and gradual return; social and economic conflicts emanating from biting poverty for most and accumulation by a few; uncertain territorial demarcations by way of changing and contested statutory and communal boundaries in the context of weak and subverted regulatory institutions, together deepen conflicts over resources. This article analyses these issues by examining a case of land acquisition in Amuru: a bid by the Madhvani business group to access huge tracts of land in western Acholi for purposes of growing sugar cane, and the heated debates and protests this case has generated, as played out by political representation in different arenas such as the media, courts and representative assemblies.


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