Uganda: Rebels Seek a Plea Deal


December26, 2006: There are still about 130,000 internal refugees living in UN camps in northern Uganda. While 350,000 internal refugees up north have left the camps, those that remain (and who were supposed to have left by the end of the year) fear that there are still LRA bands, or just a lot of bandits, in the areas where their empty villages are. Actually, there bandits about in the north, and some of them used to run with the LRA. The UN is trying to raise $300 million to run the refugee camps for at least another year.

December 23, 2006: The government believes that LRA leader Joseph Kony is willing to face a trial in Uganda, in lieu of a trip to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kony's indictment is viewed by many observers as a potential problem in the peace process. Making a deal with the ICC is difficult, but a deal by Kony with the government (in regards to his crimes) is possible. Kony has continually denied any wrong-doing. Kony regards the ICC as being "biased" against him. Of course at one time Uganda's government was his sworn enemy, and it was the government that pressed the ICC for the indictments. But political maneuvering is replacing combat and it may take a "judicial deal" to keep the peace process moving.

The government has offered to send ten bulls to the LRA rebels in the south Sudan assembly areas. The bulls would be offered as Christmas presents. Slaughtering a bull and sharing in a feast is regarded as a statement of friendship. In tribal peace negotiations among the Nuer and Dinka tribes (south Sudan), offering a bull by the chiefs symbolizes public reconciliation.

December 21, 2006: Uganda has sent16 police officers to serve in East Timor as peacekeepers.

Peace talks between the LRA and the government resumed in Juba, Sudan. The south Sudan government is mediating the talks.

December 20, 2006: NGOs operating in south Sudan and in Uganda have now had a chance to assess the Uganda-LRA peace process. While peace is no guarantee, the consensus view is that unlike earlier peace negotiations, this time both the LRA and the government appear to be serious about reaching an agreement. That's in line with a UN assessment made earlier this fall. The Anglican Church in Uganda has continued to encourage the peace process. There is an interesting twist developing as negotiations within Uganda expand. LRA leaders are reluctant to attend peace negotiations because of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrants. The LRA's senior commander, Joseph Kony, is currently under indictment by the ICC. Three other senior commanders are also under indictment. Acholi tribal in leaders in northern Uganda are conducting some talks on behalf of the LRA. Some LRA members have characterized the fighting in northern Uganda as a war by Kampala against the Acholi. That characterization has some truth to it. Many of the LRA's cadres came from the Acholi tribe, which is a dominant tribe in the north. However, the LRA rebels also attack the Acholi. One read on this is that a number of Acholi leaders simply want the war to stop.

December 18, 2006: The Ugandan government and the LRA extended the truce (Cessation of Hostility Agreement). The truce period will now run through February 28, 2007. With a few exceptions, the truce has held since it went into effect in August. A Ugandan spokesman said that the LRA would have another month (presumably January 2007) to continue to assemble in the south Sudan assembly areas of Ri-Kwangba and Owiny Ki-Bul.




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