Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Uganda: should the government talk to the LRA?

While on the subject on Uganda (read the post below this one first) ...

Jimmy Kolker, US ambassador to Uganda, gave an interview to IRIN saying that the Ugandan government should talk to the LRA.
We all think that ultimately there will be discussions to end this war. We [the US] want to encourage conversations to end this war - that’s not to say negotiation, which would imply two equal parties coming together to bargain. But we certainly are trying to get in contact with the LRA to build confidence, most importantly to open a path for humanitarian access to the north. This isn’t something that’s going to happen tomorrow. Patience is a virtue in any such attempt.
Museveni's response to advice of this kind: "Why don’t the Americans negotiate with Al Qaeda?" (Kolker does answer this in the same interview above ... essentially says AQ & LRA are just different). Museveni is not in the mood to talk to the LRA. Time after time, he has said he is out to kill Kony and his deputy.

But the calls for negotiation/talks have been coming from inside Uganda as well. Retired Bishop Macleord Baker Ocholla II is a member of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a group that has been trying to end the 18 year conflict with the LRA. At the end of March, he addressed the press during the Interfaith Peace Summit for Africa and this is what he had to say.
"There is no political will to end the war in Uganda... "

The Bishop, who lost all his family during one raid by the [LRA] rebels, said the international community was to blame, because it did not ask for accountability after giving money to the Ugandan government.

"The war has become a lucrative enterprise to army generals, who are getting fat war allowances," lamented Bishop Ocholla.
In this March 19 Monitor interview, former minister Charles Alai also blames Museveni's attitude for the lack of progress in ending the war with the LRA.
"That is the big mistake Museveni is making. If Museveni wants to talk peace, he must stop insulting Kony and speaking ill of the Acholi," Alai said. He said people close to the president have consistently lied to him about the LRA war.
LRA = Lord's Resistance Army