Blog Posts for 2009
- Members of the LRA negotiating team have arrived in Kampala for a historic first-ever official visit to begin six-week “consultations” across Uganda on the issue of justice and accountability. If all goes smooth, this should put peace talks back on track to resume in Juba in early December.
- Meanwhile, the senior-level LRA commander, Patrick Makasi, who surrendered to UN troops in DR Congo earlier this month, also arrived in Uganda this week to accept amnesty.
- Makasi has confirmed allegations of a rift between LRA top leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti and other commanders. There is increasing worry that LRA factionalism could frustrate the ongoing peace negotiations.
- In addition, rumors and arguments continue over the status of LRA second-in-command Vincent Otti. Earlier this week, the local radio MegaFM reported his death, but the LRA delegation has vociferously denied this claim. Instead, they report that Otti is seriously ill with cholera.
- Two humanitarian workers were killed this week in northern Uganda in an ambush by unidentified gunmen. Without adequate police or judicial institutions, banditry and crime have been on the rise in war-affected areas.
- A civilian from Uganda’s northeastern Karamoja region was killed by the Ugandan army during a suspected cattle raid in Kitgum district. Karamajong cattle raids in northern Uganda, especially with ongoing instability in both regions, pose another threat to peacebuilding.
- Recognizing the potential for resumed violence between North and South Sudan, the UN Security Council has voted to extend UN peacekeepers (UNMIS) in the region and support implementation of the existing peace agreement.
- A new International Crisis Group report highlights escalating violence in eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu region. They write, “This new crisis results from failures of the Congo peace process on army integration, economic governance and transitional justice.”
- During President Museveni’s visit Tuesday to the White House, President Bush said he wants an end to the war “sooner rather than later” and supports ongoing peace negotiations. Regrettably, President Bush did not use the meeting or press conference to more fully promote the peace process and warn against escalating military rhetoric. Click here to listen to our analysis on Voice of America.
- The ENOUGH Project to end genocide and crimes against humanity has released a new report, saying that LRA leader Joseph Kony must be given three credible choices: (1) accountability (national justice mechanisms), (2) asylum or (3) arrest.
- In advance of the White House visit, we also released our latest policy brief, titled “Give Peace a Chance: Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Northern Uganda.” The report calls on the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to ongoing peace negotiations and denounce escalating talk of regional military action.
Speaking in Gulu yesterday, the head of the LRA delegation to the Juba peace talks asked northern Ugandans to forgive the rebel group for crimes committed during over two decades of conflict. Martin Ojul said, “The LRA made plenty of mistakes and I ask for forgiveness for what happened to our people.” Ojul also reaffirmed the LRA delegation
Gulu resident district commissioner, Col. Walter Ochora said today, “From our intelligence, we know that Otti (the second-of-command of LRA) is dead and Kony removed his satellite phone and gave it to his signaller…Kony should call Radio MegaFM and clear the air about the death of Otti to avoid anxiety and speculation.” The New Vision reports that Ochora has played a key role in confidence-building between the Government and rebels. Meanwhile, other northern Ugandan leaders have pressed the LRA to shed more light on Otti’s status. The Monitor reports that Gulu District Chairman Norbert Mao said, “I have told Martin Ojul [LRA lead negotiator] that the cloud needs to be cleared. This cholera story is implausible. They should find another lie or come open and tell us what exactly happened to Otti.”
The meeting Saturday night between President Museveni and the LRA negotiating team ended with the signing of a document that extends the Cessation of Hostilities truce to 31 January 2008. The Government’s lead negotiator said that the meeting “obviously enhanced confidence in the whole process.” Read more at The Monitor.
The New Vision reports that the LRA remains “cagey” about the fate of its second-in-command Vincent Otti, but top security sources that that “all indicators show that he is dead.” The UPDF spokesperson, Maj. Felx Kulayigye, said, “Kony killed his first army commander Otti Lagony in similar circumstances during peace talks in 1994.” Reports are rife that Otti was executed in the LRA hideout in Garamba in the DR Congo, on the orders of his boss, Joseph Kony. In an interview this weekend, the former LRA director of operations Opiyo Makasi said that Kony arrested Otti on 2 October following a disagreement on the peace process. Meanwhile, the LRA delegation has continued to assert that Otti is okay, even when President Museveni asked them to ask Kony to release Otti. Read more at The New Vision.
Voice of America reports that the LRA delegation visiting Kampala plans to meet with President Museveni and consult with Ugandans across the country about ongoing peace negotiations. LRA spokesman Godfrey Ayoo said the delegation has been warmly received in Kampala. “The reception that the Lords Resistance Movement/Army’s peace delegation has received in Uganda has been wonderful. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of expectation,” he said. Ayoo says the purpose of the delegation is to demonstrate that his group wants peace and to involve the Ugandan people in the peace process.
The UN Secretary-General has issued the following statement on the peace process in northern Uganda:
“The Secretary-General is encouraged by the official visit of a delegation of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to Kampala, and hopes that the consultations taking place there will create momentum towards a comprehensive settlement to this conflict, which has brought great suffering to the people of Northern Uganda.
The Good: Peace talks appear back on track as the LRA negotiating team makes a historic visit to Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.
The Bad: Two humanitarian workers were killed by unidentified gunmen in northern Uganda, adding to reports that crime and banditry are on the rise.
The Ugly: Continued rumors persist over the status and possible death of LRA second-in-command Vincent Otti, raising fears of rebel factionalism.
The Peace Process:
Situation on the Ground:
This week two very different representatives from the LRA arrived in Uganda
Patrick Opiyo Makasi, a former LRA commander who surrendered to the Congolese army in October, has reportedly been granted amnesty. Makasi was returned to Uganda yesterday from the DR Congo. Under Uganda
Two humanitarian workers were killed and one injured yesterday in northern Uganda when unidentified gunmen ambushed the vehicle they were traveling in. The victims were local staff of the humanitarian group Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED). Banditry is common in northern Uganda due to lack of adequate civilian protection mechanisms and weak police and judicial institutions. Read more at Reuters.