News & Analysis Blog Posts
Northern Ugandan religious, political and cultural leaders announced today that President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has invited them to Khartoum to discuss the prospects of the Juba peace talks. Meanwhile, the Sudanese ambassador to Uganda said that the decision of South Sudan
Ugandan and Congolese military officials met this week to discuss details of plans to coordinate regional military action against rebels in eastern DR Congo, including the LRA. The sides agreed that,
A quick breakdown the week
Michael Gerson, who served as President Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001 to 2006 and is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote a column in yesterday’s paper titled, “To End a Nightmare,” all about the prospects of ending the two-decade conflict in northern Uganda.
Michael Gerson, who served as President Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001 to 2006 and is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote a column in yesterday’s paper titled, “To End a Nightmare,” all about the prospects for ending the two-decade conflict in northern Uganda.
Reuters AlertNet is today featuring our latest Op/Ed on their homepage, titled “Fighting Chance: Activists are worried about talk of a military solution in northern Uganda.” In the article, our senior researcher Peter Quaranto writes, “The current military buildup is unhelpful and runs a high risk of rekindling violence. It provides a convenient cover for either the Ugandan government or the LRA to back out of the Juba talks. The negotiations, flawed as they are, still offer the best chance to end the LRA security threat and begin addressing deeper grievances. Western leaders can best help northern Uganda by making sure the peace talks get a full chance to succeed.” Read more at Reuters AlertNet.
In our continuing Wednesday coverage of Uganda’s neighbors, we focus today on the troubling news of the last week in southern Sudan. Last Thursday, we reported that 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 (CPA) signed in 2005. After weeks of growing tension, the future of the CPA is uncertain. Opiyo Oloya writes in today’s New Vision that resumed violence in southern Sudan would halt the progress of the Juba peace talks for northern Uganda.
The International Crisis Group released a new report last week, showing that the current tensions are centered around the oil-rich Abyei region. Both sides have reportedly built up their military presence in and around the area. One of the SPLM’s demands is for northern troops to leave the Abyei region as promised in the CPA. Fortunately, South Sudanese officials met on Tuesday with Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir to discuss these tensions. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is expected to travel to Khartoum later this week for further talks. Still, as Crisis Group points out, the international community must re-engage to keep the CPA together and support its implementation.
Meanwhile, there are continuing reports of fighting and abduction to northern Uganda’s west, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Voice of America reports that “recruitment” of children into armed forces is skyrocketing. The humanitarian crisis in this region is only deepening. We’ll report much more next Wednesday on the politics of conflict in DRC.
After holding consultative meetings last month, nearly 100 civil society organizations in northern Uganda have released a joint declaration on agenda item #3 of the Juba peace talks. This remarkable consensus document was signed by organizations covering the regions of Acholi, Lango, Teso and West Nile. The organizations call for the establishment of a Special Court for the prosecution of those most responsible for human rights violations in northern Uganda. Meanwhile, they appeal to the Ugandan parliament to “expeditiously domesticate the ICC bill in line with national and traditional justice mechanisms.” They urge the Ugandan government to request the UN Security Council to defer the ICC arrest warrants for a period of 12 months. For those prosecuted, they recommend penalties such as “deprivation from heading public offices, deprivation from working with children and deprivation of liberty through serving prison sentences.”
The declaration also reads, “Forced encampment and displacement should be recognized and acknowledged as a crime against humanity and the circumstances investigated and the persons responsible for such occurrences brought to book…Furthermore, any return program should be in line with the IDP policy and most importantly, there should be no forced return. Return should be voluntary.” The organizations then call for the development of a reparations program for northern Uganda beginning now before the outcome of peace talks. They write that reparations could include schools, hospitals, monuments and memorial centers. “Furthermore, a national day of mourning should be established to commemorate the suffering and lives lost in the conflict.” These groups also advocate a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a tenure of four years for truth-telling and reconciliation.
This declaration is a unique moment in history with northern Uganda civil society – across its regions – speaking with one voice. Now we must act to make sure that policymakers cannot ignore it.
President Museveni has vowed to turn around northern Uganda’s fortunes by advocating industrialisation in the region despite resistance from some of the local leaders. “We want industrialisation of northern Uganda by for instance developing the sugar industry in Gulu, Amuru and Adjumani, fruit processing plants in Arua and Soroti. The government will do everything possible to set up these industries,” the President said on Monday when announcing the $600 million 3-year Peace, Development and Recovery Plan for Northern Uganda. Many war survivors have long expressed fear that the government would take their land to develop large-scale industry. Such moves, without the consent of northern Ugandans, would violate their rights and perpetuate feelings of marginalization. Read more at The Monitor.