Uganda: Peace Deal Holding

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September 2, 2006: The truce between the Ugandan government and the LRA (signed on August 26, 2006) appears to be holding. The truce went into effect on August 29. The build-up to this particular ceasefire agreement deviated from past "pre-ceasefire" discussions. For one thing, Sudanese vice-president and former rebel leader Riek Machar acted as mediator. The LRA's Joseph Kony also emerged to talk to reporters. LRA rebels will not be assembling in northern Uganda (that was a feature of a previous ceasefire agreement). Instead, LRA rebels will rendezvous in south Sudan. Sudanese forces in south Sudan (which are largely composed of former Sudanese rebels who fought with the SPLA) will monitor the LRA's actions and act as a "buffer" between the LRA and Ugandan military units. Uganda still has military units conducting anti-LRA operations inside south Sudan. The Ugandan government and the LRA intend to pursue further peace negotiations. September 12 is Uganda's supposed "deadline" for concluding a peace agreement, but the Ugandan government is already hinting that its September 12 date could be extended. That indicates the peace talks are making some progress. If the peace negotiations fail, however, the truce agreement says the LRA rebels will be allowed to leave the assembly areas in south Sudan. Both the Ugandan government and the LRA have agreed to cease military activities. Interestingly enough, they also agreed to suspend "hostile media and propaganda campaigns" International pressure on the LRA has also increased since 2004. Both Kony and LRA deputy commander Vincent Otti have been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. The LRA base area in the Congo (DRC) continues to operate, but UN peacekeeping forces have launched several sweep operations in the area. Uganda has accused the UN forces of failing to stop the LRA. That statement is literally true, but the UN forces in the Congo are not the LRA's ally. Current press reports and reports from Uganda have both Kony and Otti hiding out in the Congo's Garamba National Park region (not far from the border of Sudan and Uganda).
September 1, 2006: Uganda reported that LRA rebels were "trickling" into protected camp areas in south Sudan, per the August 26 truce agreement.
August 31, 2006: The government believes that if a permanent peace agreement is reached with the LRA, northern Uganda faces years of post-war reconstruction. It is more than a matter of rebuilding destroyed villages. Refugees living in camps must be given enough aid to start their lives again. Some farms and homesteads have been abandoned for several years and that means supplying new farm implements and supplies. Another problem is northern Uganda's transportation network. It largely consists of dirt roads, but these roads have deteriorated through lack of use and maintenance, because of fear of LRA landmines. The political implications of a successful peace agreement are difficult to estimate, but the Acholi tribe of northern Uganda has never trusted the Ugandan government (located in southern Uganda in Kampala). The LRA now has a political organization, the Lord's Resistance Movement. The LRM has a number of Acholi members who are trying to appeal to the Acholi tribe for support. The LRM is talking about creating a common "northern Ugandan" political agenda. A pan-northern political alliance is unlikely for a number of reasons (including inter-tribal rivalries). Still, this is an indicator that if a resilient peace agreement is reached, the LRA intends to become a political party.

 

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