Cablegate: Uganda: Scenesetter for General Ward (Feb 27-28)

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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Uganda is a productive player for U.S. policy
interests in Africa with Ugandan troops deploying to Somalia
assisted by U.S. money, and logistics. Uganda cooperates fully in
the War on Terror, and is highly receptive to U.S. training and
presence. On the humanitarian and development side, Uganda
vigorously supports a number of US initiatives including
Presidential initiatives on Aids (PEPFAR) and Malaria (PMI) and U.S.
free trade and free market Objectives.

2. (SBU) Uganda also has a number of challenges. Uganda's search
for a peaceful resolution to the 21-year long conflict with the
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues, but is stalled because the
LRA delegates refuse to return to the negotiating table in Juba,
southern Sudan. The Ugandan military is facing serious challenges
as it carries out a forcible disarmament program in Karamoja, which
has resulted in numerous deaths. The United States is the largest
bilateral donor for humanitarian efforts to assist the 1.5 million
displaced persons in northern Uganda. Museveni is facing
significant internal pressure from within the ruling party on issues
of succession, accountability, and human rights and media freedoms.
Museveni supports liberal market principles and foreign investment,
although corruption remains a problem. Uganda recently was approved
for the Millenium Challenge Corporation and will receive $10 million
for anti-corruption measures. Uganda reduced its HIV/AIDS rate from
18 percent in 1992 to 6.4 percent in 2006 and received $170 million
in 2006 as a focus country for the President's Emergency Plan for
AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). End Summary.

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3. (SBU) The security situation in northern Uganda improved
dramatically over the past year. The insurgent Lord's Resistance
Army (LRA) which was pushed into Congo in December 2005 agreed to
negotiate with the Government of Uganda. Talks began in July 2006
and yielded a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA) which allowed
combatants safe passage out of Northern Uganda to assemble in
designated areas in Southern Sudan. The LRA failed to assemble,
claiming the UPDF had surrounded the areas. There have been LRA
attacks along key roads between Uganda and Juba, but since August
2006, there have been none in northern Uganda. Recent press reports
say that the LRA's top leadership may have moved out of Garamba
National Park to Central African Republic (CAR).

4. (SBU) Currently, the peace talks remain stalled because the LRA
refuses to return to Juba. The LRA delegates--primarily members of
the anti-Museveni diaspora--are lobbying to change the venue of
talks to Kenya or South Africa and to replace the Government of
Southern Sudan's Mediator, Riek Machar. Meanwhile, the GOU's direct
discussions between LRA leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti have
broken down. The latest extension of the CHA expires on February
28. The leader of the Government's negotiating team, Minister of
Internal Affairs Ruhukana Rugunda, stated on February 18, that the
GOU will not resume hostilities. Nonetheless, the Ugandan military
continues to lay the groundwork for its "Plan B", a military strike
against the LRA leadership. However, the Government does not yet
have permission from Congo to carry out operations there. The GOU
has been in contact with the government of CAR.

5. (SBU) In northeastern Uganda, the Government's forcible
disarmament program has led to increasing insecurity and violence in
Karamoja. Humanitarian agencies report that the security situation
in Kotido, Kaabong, and Abim districts continues to deteriorate as
the result of armed confrontations between the UPDF and Karamojong
warriors. On February 13, clashes between the UPDF and Karamojong
killed at least 52 warriors and 4 soldiers in two days of running
battles after a series of ambushes against military convoys.

6. (SBU) Ugandan troops are set to deploy to Somalia as part of an
African Union Peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM). President Museveni
during his tenure as head of IGAD oversaw the establishment of the
Transitional Federal Government and Institutions, and committed to
send Ugandan troops. The Ugandans believe that a stable Somalia is
necessary for peace and stability throughout East Africa especially
for ending the flow of small arms into Karamoja. Ugandan's 1500
troops will be deployed beginning March 5 and Uganda's MG Levi
Karahunga, a veteran of the Liberia peacekeeping mission, will be
AMISOM's force commander.

7. (SBU) Uganda is proud to have been part of the "coalition of the
willing" in the fight against global terror. Government officials
are preoccupied with the spread of Arab fundamentalism. They
frequently and publicly make the distinction between Arab states,
such as Sudan and Eritrea and black African neighbors. Uganda is a
predominately Christian country and promotes good relations with its
Muslim community.

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8. (SBU) The 21-year old LRA conflict displaced over 1.5 million
people. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons
(IDPs) have returned near or to their lands as the result of
improved security. Residents of Lango and Teso district have left
IDP camps and those in Gulu are beginning to do so in higher
numbers. The Government lacks a clear, consistent message on
returns, which has been a particular problem in Kitgum, the district
closest to the border with Sudan.

9. (SBU) The improved security situation has led to a decline in
the numbers of night commuters--children who seek sleep in shelters
to avoid abduction from the LRA--to 2,700, according to UNICEF.
These numbers are down from 23,885 in December 2005. Surveys
indicate the number of children that continue to commute do so for
reasons other than fear of abduction, such as domestic abuse and
availability of services.

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10. (SBU) Various Mission agencies are working together to enhance
peace and security in northern Uganda through a three-pronged
strategy of humanitarian, political, and military assistance. Our
overall assistance in FY06 exceeded $88 million. The U.S. is the
largest bilateral donor of food assistance for the 1.5 million
displaced persons and refugees. We provide a variety of other
water, health, and sanitation assistance. We support UNHCR and
others in programs to ensure the safe and voluntary return of
displaced persons to their homes or intermediate locations.

11. (SBU) We have promoted reconciliation, dialogue, and
reintegration of former combatants through USAID programs aimed at
mitigating conflict. Embassy officers engage with key players in
the negotiations. Modest amounts of Defense Department funds are
being used to provide non-lethal assistance to help the UPDF protect
civilians and relief supplies in northern Uganda. CJTF-HOA is
working on humanitarian projects with the UPDF in northern Uganda to
improve civilian-military relations. Post is using IMET, ACOTA, and
ACSS programs as well as participation in regional exercises to
enhance the professionalism of the Ugandan military. On Somalia,
the State Department funded the logistics of the UPDF's deployment
while CJTF-HOA provided logisticians and members of the DAO's office
coordinated the operation with the UPDF.

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12. (SBU) One year after returning to multi-party rule, Uganda is
experiencing growing pains. The ruling National Resistance Movement
(NRM) party is grappling with internal dissent among younger
parliamentarians who resent the monopolistic behavior of the
Movement's "historicals". Recent internal challenges included the
hijacking of a National Executive Council meeting to air complaints,
succession wrangling, and a continuing battle with President
Museveni over the provision of vehicles. These troubles translated
into refusal by the NRM members of Parliament to acquiesce to the
Government's attempt to suspend parliamentary procedure to quickly
pass the resolution to approve the Somalia mission.

13. (SBU) Opposition parties remain weak and personality-based.
The opposition's primary tools are press and protest because they
are substantially outnumbered in parliament. The opposition agreed
to return to Parliament after walking out over the Executive
Branch's continued defiance of a court order to release on bail
suspected members of the People's Redemption Army (PRA) arrested
with Museveni's principal electoral rival, FDC's Kizza Besigye.
Another party grabbed the headlines earlier this year by demanding
that the government act on the findings of a Scotland Yard
investigation into the death of one of Museveni's former ministers,
who had fallen out with the President. Uganda's press traded
headlines and boosted sales for weeks over the report - which said
Kiyiira was killed by armed robbers or government soldiers. The
government called in the reporters and editors responsible for the
articles, which, along with other recent actions, has had a chilling
effect on the independent media.

14. (SBU) The government's human rights record remains poor,
particularly with respect to cases of arbitrary arrest and
detentions and lengthy pre-trial detention. However, the consensus
of a wide range UN agencies, international and local NGOs, and civil
society organizations indicates that over the past year, the UPDF
has demonstrated marked improvement in respecting the human rights

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of the IDPs under their protection in northern Uganda. While abuses
were at one time entrenched and do still happen (particularly
involving local defense units), they can now be categorized as
individual incidents that do not occur as result of orders from
senior officials, and are no longer part and parcel of the

15. (SBU) The reasons for this improvement are attributable to a
number of factors, including lowered tensions due to a reduction in
the threat level, reassignment of the most notorious UPDF commanders
whose units were associated with human rights abuses, increased
international attention, and ongoing training by the USG, ICRC, and
other organizations on international standards of human rights and
humanitarian law. Organizations continue to monitor abuses and are
working through the UN's cluster approach to improve reporting
measures. The forcible disarmament program in Karamoja, however,
has opened up the UPDF to new allegations of abuse.

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16. (SBU) President Museveni is a steadfast supporter of free
market principles and remains committed to liberalizing the economy,
containing inflation, and encouraging economic growth, and foreign
investment. Foreign debt has dropped from over USD 6 billion in
2004 to USD 1.6 billion in 2007 through debt relief programs.
Uganda is attempting to diversify its agriculture-based economy,
focusing on non-traditional, high-value items such as vanilla,
processed fish, and cut flowers. The pace of economic growth has
remained consistent over the last twelve with annual GDP growth
rates between 5-6 percent. Foreign direct investment is increasing.
The fastest growing sectors are construction, transportation and
telecommunications. Uganda's tourism industry is earning a
significant amount of foreign exchange.

17. (SBU) An ongoing energy crisis, corruption and inadequate
transport infrastructure have hampered economic development and
investor confidence. The energy crisis, which started in late 2005
due to poor energy planning coupled with a significant drop in Lake
Victoria water levels, severely decreased electricity generation
from hydroelectric power. Recent rains are increasing hydroelectric
power output and new leadership in the Ministry of Energy has added
100 megawatts of thermal generator power to help fill the power gap.
Uganda was approved for by the Millenium Challenge Corporation for
a two-year $10.4 million Threshold Country Program (TCP) in Uganda
to provide technical assistance, training and equipment to
Government of Uganda's anti-corruption agencies and civil society

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18. (SBU) Uganda is a focus country for the President's Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and received $170 million in PEPFAR
funds for the Centers for Disease Control, USAID, Peace Corps, and
Defense and State Department programs. The program is one of the
largest in Africa, along with South Africa and Kenya. Uganda's
HIV/AIDS infection rate peaked at 18 percent in 1992 and has
decreased to 6.4 percent in 2006. The decline is largely the result
of an aggressive public awareness campaign and significant donor
support for programs that provide comprehensive prevention,
treatment, care and support services for those infected and living
with HIV/AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children, and pregnant
mothers. The Defense Department's PEPFAR program ($1,486,400)
supports Walter Reed Army Hospital and the UPDF's efforts to provide
comprehensive prevention, care, and treatment services to reduce HIV
transmission among UPDF personnel, their families, and surrounding

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19. (SBU) U.S. efforts to mitigate the affects of the conflict in
the north and bring about a resolution and reconciliation to the
conflict in the north dominate our peace and security agenda. More
recently, the U.S. assistance for the Ugandan deployment to Somalia
has become the focus of our attention. Nonetheless, we continue to
advance our interests in encouraging multi-partyism and political
competition, economic transparency, and combating HIV/AIDS. Our
message to President Museveni includes:

--Recognition of Museveni's efforts to bring about a peaceful
resolution to the 21-year old conflict with the LRA. The GOU has
demonstrated restraint and patience during the peace talks at Juba.
The USG supports the Juba venue and Government of South Sudan's

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mediation efforts.

--Reaffirm our commitment to working with the GOU to mitigate
regional tensions. We encourage Uganda to continue talking to its
neighbors, particularly Congo, to deal with the regional aspects of
the LRA problem.

--Appreciation for Uganda's long-standing commitment to deploy to
Somalia and the high level of professionalism demonstrated during
the deployment preparations.

--Efforts to assist the development of a democratic system, which
includes strong civil society and democratic institutions, respect
for human rights and rule of law, and transparency and

--Partnership with Uganda in the war against terror. We look
forward to continuing to work with Uganda on the global war on
terror and other programs of bilateral cooperation.

© Scoop Media

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