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Uganda rebels keep peace on hold

December 2, 2008

In the middle of the small village of Nabanga there is a clearing in the thick bush where tough south Sudanese grass keeps growing despite the increasing dry season heat. This is the helipad.

For the last two years, U.N. choppers have dropped mediators and dignitaries here among the small huts and careful vegetable plots to try to bring the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to peace and disarmament.

But last weekend, just a few kilometers away, LRA leader Joseph Kony again refused to sign the peace deal that could end decades of conflict that badly affected south Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and devastated northern Uganda.

The conflict has little direct impact in northern Uganda these days, but Nabanga residents still live in the shadow of LRA soldiers. In June, 23 people, including 14 southern Sudanese soldiers, were killed in a suspected attack.

“This is a problem,” Nabanga youth leader Yohan Philemona said when he heard that Kony would not sign. The village used to have a thriving border market with next-door Congo, but LRA attacks have diminished it together with the population.

“With peace, immediately, all these would come back,” trader Esa Michael said. Like Philemona and others he does not know what could happen next. He only hears bits of news from the radio, he said.

Michael is sceptical of the peace process but some of Nabanga’s people are now in the jungle with the Ugandan rebels and trying to use force against them is by no means an option without problems.

“Seven girls were taken and have become wives for the LRA,” Philemona said. “We need them back.” Under the unsigned deal, all the LRA’s soldiers would be disarmed including the unknown number of child soldiers.

Many saw this weekend as a final push for the peace deal negotiated between LRA representatives and the Ugandan government under the mediation of the south’s Vice President Riek Machar.

Machar has said he will continue to look for new ways forward for the peace process but he and the U.N.’s special envoy to LRA-affected areas former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano looked dejected as they left Nabanga.

Kony failed to turn up for an April signing ceremony and reneged on other meets with mediators since. In the past months LRA attacks on villages in the DRC has displaced over 6,000 people into south Sudan.

Every evening Nbanga pastor Justin Farris locks up and takes his small daughter Anna and his wife into the bush, walking an hour away from Nbanga where they feel safer from LRA attacks.

“If there was peace then we could sleep in our houses,” Farris said, adding that most of his 12 children are living in a town to the north where it is safer. Parents do not send children to Nbanga’s broken school, afraid of a mass abduction by the LRA.

Hope in Nabanga is fading of an end to the conflict. Kony has demanded that the International Criminal Court defer its warrant against him for alleged war crimes before he will sign a peace deal. There is no indication it will.

What do you think needs to be done? Is there still hope for mediation? Should the international court drop its warrant? Could military action work?

(Pictures: Tim McKulka, United Nations Mission in Sudan)


I don’t think UN and/or other international community should drop the crimes committed by these rebels. I am of the opinion that UN should first diffuse the hidden interest behind the rebels’ persistence and effectiveness in their barbaric act. There are civilized ways of resolving whatever grievances they have. It should not be in the manner they are handling it. Secondly, UN should improve its effectiveness in handling disputes. I think it is very importance for relevance. In my opinion, the UN can achieve that by demonstrating the ability to employ coercion on the rebels when the need arise.

Posted by Jibrin | Report as abusive

Well, the LRA has in deed caused vast displacements and terror in 3 countries. This has to stop with certainty. I am glad Northern Uganda is getting less affected, however it depresses me the number of people affected in Southern Sudan and Northern Congo.

Museveni knows himself that it would be unacceptable for Kony to turn up and sign a peace deal as he was in the same position in the early 80′s facing the then Ugandan Government. The possibility of assassination attempts are too great to Kony especially with UN backed efforts to bring him to trial.

Lets not forget that we all need to know the basis of Kony’s basis of reasoning. What does he really want; without ridicule as running Uganda with the 10 commandments.

We all need this published, and that is when we can understand the conflicts better. Clearly there is too much unsaid left to imagination. No man would just cause conflicts in the name of wisdom to rule – that would be truly a cardinal sin.

Musenveni has ruled Uganda for 23 years now, and should relinquish his position, however it should be on a democratic way, as opposed to violence that Kony has instigated through Northern Uganda.

I am sure there are real sympathizers of the Lords Resistance Army who have grievances against the Ugandan government for good reason. If they are educated they should call up a video debate with Museveni on TV, and publicize their grievances verbally without hesitation. Let the world then judge for themselves what really the issue is. Publicly open up the LRA’s requirements in order to sign the peace deal.

Surely you don’t need Kony but a representative of good understanding and close enough to Kony to sign the agreement. Some one with knowledge and respectful of the requirements of Kony.

If Kony turned up to the Sign up wouldn’t he be stupid to open himself to an assassination attempt. Museveni lived through the same fear. You all well know Kony will not show up to sign up a deal that his Lieutenants can sign up themselves. He knows he is the target of a planned assassination, clearly.

All he has to do is get some one to sign the deal, and disappear from rudder – perhaps Egypt, Senegal or anywhere he can make a living without disruption or fear of being prosecuted. He knows that and he should do just that so Uganda and its Neighbours can live in peace.

And by the way when can we get a new Ugandan leader. The state of Hospitals and Health services are in tatters. Where are all the funds going??? Questions which need answers. Uganda is rich in minerals. Will Uganda prosper as the Pearl Of Africa as Churchill once said, or will government after another loot and squander the wealth that the people so much want to see. What is happening to Public Transport, Health, Tax, and the expunging of corruption??

The Government is responsible. I believe we don’t need a Ugandan President, but a Prime minister who is overseen by a Council of Men & Women representative of the different tribes of Uganda ( 12 to be exact ).

The Prime minister should have no powers over the Ugandan Military and only the Council Elected by the people should serve that purpose.

After the Prime minister will come other ministers, all of whom are accountable to the Council elect.

The Intelligence Network should come under a section of the council, and should be able to operate unilaterally and investigate any corruption or misconduct by ministers and any Members of the 12 strong Council.

That is my say. I hope the Ugandan President can read this and candidly come up with a plan. Ugandans have been raped financially through all the regimes. No regime is without its problems, and my solution to the problem is the Ultimate solution and can be the Model all African countries should undertake.

Martin Okello.
Aka The Medallion

Aka The Medallion.


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