Resolve Uganda’s weekly roundup: ‘the good, the bad, the ugly’ of Oct 6-12
Here we go with another weekly roundup of the news in and around northern Uganda. As you can see, we’ve continued to use the prism of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ to sort through the week’s stories. We hope it gives you a quick and easy way each week to stay up-to-date with the latest conflict developments.
The Bad: We start with ‘the bad’ this week because continuing military buildup and tensions in the wider region are threatening the fragile ceasefire in northern Uganda. Just yesterday, southern Sudan’s main party (the SPLM) suspended its involvement in Sudan’s national unity government until its northern partners uphold their agreements under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005. After weeks of growing tension, the future of the CPA is uncertain. A return to war would be catastrophic for the region, not least northern Uganda. At the same time, to Uganda’s west, the eastern region of DR Congo is home to intensifying violence. The UN humanitarian coordinator says that sexual violence there is “the worst in the world.” Meanwhile, northern Ugandans’ hope, the Juba peace talks, remain stalled and are now threatened by growing military rhetoric. The ICC prosecutor, for one, called this week for intensified military efforts to arrest LRA leaders. This follows military threats against the LRA over recent weeks by Western and Ugandan officials. We look closer at this military buildup in the next section.
The Ugly: In an Op/Ed published today, we argue that the current military threats by Western officials run a high risk of providing the LRA or Ugandan government with convenient cover to withdraw from peace talks and return to war. Military plans, as well intentioned as they might be, are more likely to have catastrophic consequences on the region than effectively dealing with the insecurity. With every proclaimed “military solution” in the past, northerners have suffered more severe attacks and displacement. Why take the risk now when there is a viable opportunity ongoing (the Juba peace talks) that has a better chance to end the LRA security threat and begin addressing deeper grievances? This message was echoed last week by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold who called for diplomacy, not supporting “military solutions.” Finally, a report released this week shows that “military solutions” to the conflict have cost Uganda $1.7 billion over two decades, with little to show for such efforts.
The Good: Still, in the midst of such gloom, there is still hope. The Juba negotiations are still ongoing and the chief mediator believes they will resume soon. The Uganda army, while making threats, has also said it is ready to “reconcile” with former combatants if a peace agreement is signed. Though torturously slow, the Juba negotiations deserve to have a complete chance to succeed. War-affected communities have made overwhelming clear their preference for the peace talks, not military operations. This is a message we in the Western world need to take to our capitals and officials.
Thanks for reading and signing up for the weekly roundup every Friday. Be sure to check out our Uganda Conflict Watch blog for daily updates and analysis.