Blog Posts for 2009
Continuing our (late) Wednesday look at news from Uganda’s neighbors, we focus today on three stories. First, the UN Security Council has voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the 18,800-strong U.N. force (UNMIS) monitoring the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South. There remains concern that the CPA collapse as the largest southern political party, the SPLM, has suspended its involvement in the national government. The UN resolution adopted yesterday “stresses the importance of full and expeditious implementation of all elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement” and other peace accords.
Second, the International Crisis Group has published a new report, “Congo: Bringing Peace to North Kivu,” that says failure to integrate Laurent Nkunda’s forces into national army has led to a deteriorating crisis. UN attempts to impose a ceasefire and appoint a special envoy to mediate have failed. They write, “A comprehensive initiative needs to be launched urgently to de-escalate the crisis and address the root causes of the conflict. This new crisis results from failures of the Congo peace process on army integration, economic governance and transitional justice…The illegal exploitation of natural resources continued unabated as all communities armed, animated by deep mutual resentments over land security, mass human rights abuses during the war and control of natural resources.”
Third, there are ongoing peace talks in Libya between the Sudanese government and several rebel groups from the Darfur region. The UN and AU have been promoting these negotiations, but any progress has been hampered by rebel factionalization. In addition, several key rebel groups have declined to attend the talks. Diplomats are hoping to build momentum to encourage their participation, but prospects remain grim. For more on Darfur, check out the Genocide Intervention Network.
The LRA has denied reports that its second-in-command Vincent Otti is dead. According to Yusuf Adek, a member of the LRA delegation, Otti however is seriously ill with cholera. “Otti is badly off to the extent that he can not talk and his satellite phone has been taken away from him,” Adek said on Radio Mega FM in Gulu on Tuesday night. Otti has not been heard from or seen for several weeks. People close to him, whom he used to call almost daily for the last two years, have not been able to establish contact with him for the last three weeks. Read more at The New Vision.
Patrick Makasi, the senior LRA commander who recently surrendered to UN troops in Congo, has confirmed reports that a rift had developed between LRA leader Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti. Makasi told journalists that the rift forced him out of the bush. “This rift has been going on for the last one and half years, up to the time it forced me out of the rebellion. It’s not only between Kony and Otti, it’s also among commanders,” Makasi said. Read more at The Monitor.
In yesterday’s historic meeting between President Bush and President Museveni, the two leaders discussed the need for peace talks to move forward and President Bush urged “for the conflict in northern Uganda to be resolved sooner rather than later.”
This week, thousands of you wrote emails to the President, asking him to deliver the message the opportunity for peace must be supported, and it appears like your requests got through! While we are disappointed that President Bush did not use this meeting or the subsequent press conference to more fully offer his endorsement of the negotiations process, it appears that this meeting was not used as the military strategy session it might have been – very good news!
Thanks to all of you who took action and were part of this historic occasion. The fact that northern Uganda was even on the agenda for this meeting is a testament ot your concerns and efforts.
Also, for another great take on yesterday’s meeting, you can read an op/ed in yesterday’s Philadelphia Enquirer by columnist Carolyn Davis.
A State Department has issued a press release summarizing US foreign policy and engagement with Uganda to coincide with summit between the leaders of the two countries today in Washington, DC. The statement outlined five key areas of engagement; peace and security, governing justly and democratically, health and education, economic growth and humanitarian assistance. It highlights support for the peace process, civilian police force, protection of displaced persons, reintegration of ex-combatants and professionalizing the military as key priorities in northern Uganda, along with the provision of humanitarian assistance. Read the full press release here.
The LRA representatives announced today that they will participate in a historic meeting with President Museveni in Kampala on Thursday. The LRA delegation will discuss efforts to revive the lagging peace talks and from there will embark on a six week tour of Uganda to hold consultations with civilians and civil society about issues related to the talks. Formal negotiations between the LRA and Ugandan government are expected to resume following LRA consultations. Read more at The New Vision.
A Ugandan military spokesman announced that its forces killed one armed Karamojong civilian and wounded two wounded others as they attempted to raid cattle in Kitgum district in northern Uganda. Cross-border raids from Karamoja into northern Uganda have decimated cattle stocks and caused displacement since the 1980s, highlighting the need for an integrated approach to address security threats in the region. Read more at The Monitor.
John Prendergast, co-chair of ENOUGH and long-time advocate for northern Uganda, has authored a new report, titled “What to do about Joseph Kony?” The report reads, “The fate of a war that has crossed three international borders, displaced nearly two million people, and created the highest child abduction rate in the world hinges on the fate of one man: Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).” The report continues, “The time to strike a deal is now. President Museveni has issued a January deadline for a negotiated settlement before he would resume military action.” The report says that Kony should be presented with three clear, credible choices: (1) accountability (domestic justice mechanisms), (2) asylum, (3) arrest. Prendergast argues that third country asylum or exile may well be the most practical solution.
The LRA rebels are denying speculation that Vincent Otti, their second-in-command, is dead. Speaking on Voice of America, LRA delegation technical advisor David Matsanga said that speculation about an alleged LRA split is aimed at undermining the peace process. He further said that reports that UN special envoy Joaquim Chissano did not meet with the LRA High Command are untrue. Matsanga said the rebels remain committed to the peace process.
Two active commanders of the LRA, emissaries of LRA leader Joseph Kony, have arrived at Entebbe International Airport and were warmly received by government officials. The emissaries, Ray Achama and Mike Anywar, are in Kampala to consult with the government on the progress of the Juba talks. This is the first time Kony is sending his commanders to Kampala for talks with the government. It is hoped a visit by the rebel commanders in Kampala and later Gulu will give a boost to the on-and-off talks. Read more at The Monitor.