- February 8, 2009
- From the Team
In advance of President Bush’s historic meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tomorrow, we issued a statement this morning announcing the launch of our newest policy brief, titled “Giving Peace a Real Chance: Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Northern Uganda,” and encouraging the U.S. to use tomorrow’s meeting to reaffirm its support for the ongoing peace talks. Below is the full text of the press release:
Advocates Urge President Bush to Use Tuesday Meeting with Ugandan President to Promote Peace Talks in Northern Uganda
Washington, D.C., October 29, 2007 — Tomorrow when President Bush meets his Ugandan counterpart, President Yoweri Museveni, to officially discuss the war in northern Uganda for the first time, the D.C.-based advocacy group Resolve Uganda says the U.S. president has a historic opportunity to advance peace in the long-troubled region.
“Given the United States’ strong relationship with the Government of Uganda, President Bush has a chance to use real leverage in tomorrow’s meeting to make sure the Ugandan Government is committed to securing sustainable peace for its people,” says Resolve Uganda Executive Director Michael Poffenberger.
In a new report released today, Resolve Uganda calls on the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to ongoing peace negotiations and denounce escalating talk of regional military action.
Talks between the Ugandan government and rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) aimed at ending their 21-year war have recently been plagued by delays and escalating military threats from both parties. Resolve Uganda’s new report, titled “Giving Peace a Real Chance: Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Northern Uganda ,” argues, “A resumption of military action is the greatest threat to this historic opportunity for peace.”
“Since negotiations began last year, we have seen relative calm return to the region for the first time in a decade,” says Resolve Uganda Senior Researcher Peter Quaranto. “There is now a semblance of security, allowing some people to leave displacement camps and return home. This progress would be lost by an unnecessary return to violence.”
Growing impatience with the duration of the negotiations has led Ugandan and U.S. leaders to discuss regional military action against the LRA rebels if negotiations continue to stall. In a September visit to Kampala, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer announced U.S. support for the peace process, but also warned that the U.S. would support regional military action to “mop up the LRA” if negotiations stall or fail. She also urged a timeline to limit negotiations, which evoked a hostile response from the rebels, who threatened to abandon peace talks and resume attacks.
The new report argues that such military rhetoric has undermined the fragile peace process and sparked fear of a return to violence in the region. Many especially fear the Ugandan government is considering resumed military operations, despite the fact that prior attempts to end the conflict militarily have never been successful, and have only caused more severe attacks and displacement of civilians. The report says, “Renewed violence, a likely outcome of [military] operations, would be catastrophic for both northern Uganda and the wider region.”
“The first step the U.S. can take toward achieving sustainable peace is to end the use of military threats that risk derailing the peace process, and to encourage the Ugandan government to do the same,” says Quaranto. “The meeting between Presidents Bush and Museveni on Tuesday may be our best and last chance to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the peace process before it’s too
The Ugandan government and rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have been involved in peace talks in Juba, South Sudan since August 2006, which have been heralded by many as the best chance ever to end the war in northern Uganda, Africa’s longest running conflict. The war, one of the most gruesome in modern times, has included the displacement of 1.8 million people and abduction of 30,000 children for use as child soldiers and sex slaves.
“The Juba process is not the sole answer for peace, but it can be the start of a much longer process to rebuild the war-torn area, heal deeper wounds and reconcile parties across Uganda,” says Resolve Uganda Executive Director, Michael Poffenberger. “President Bush has a unique opportunity on Tuesday to signal a serious U.S. commitment to northern Uganda.”