Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (February 10-26, 2007)

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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: Post presents the fourteenth edition of Northern
Uganda Notes to provide information on the situation on the ground
and USG activities aimed at meeting Mission's objectives in northern
Uganda. These objectives include promoting regional stability
through peace and security, good governance access to social
services, economic growth, and humanitarian assistance. Post
appreciates feedback from consumers on the utility of this product
and any gaps in information that need to be filled. End Summary.

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2. (U) The Juba peace process and direct discussions between the
Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) remain
stalled. The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA) is due to be
reviewed on February 28. The GOU says it will not renew hostilities
against the LRA. The LRA's second-in-command, Vincent Otti told AFP
on February 24 that the LRA would not renew the agreement but also
would not resume hostilities. Otti complained that the UPDF was
attacking "my boys east of the Nile River and that from now on, we
will defend ourselves." The UPDF, which is providing security in
southern Sudan, maintains that the CHA designates areas for the LRA.
Any LRA outside those areas are "fair game," according to Felix
Kulaigye, the UPDF spokesperson.

3. (U) Meanwhile, press reports indicate that Kony and Otti have
left Garamba National Park and are at the border area of Central
African Republic (CAR). Otti denies that the LRA have entered CAR.
LRA spokesman Obonyo Olweny stated "there is no military gain in
moving to CAR at the moment."

4. (SBU) An analysis based on interviews with a close associate of
Kony is receiving wide distribution within the Ugandan government
and in diplomatic circles. It states that Kony is not genuinely
committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Despite
frequent references to the role of the International Criminal Court
(ICC) as an obstacle to a negotiated settlement, the source contends
that the LRA was using the issue as a diversion to buy time while
planning for future hostile actions. The analysis recommends that
the talks must provide real amnesty, integration, and viable
economic alternatives for the rank-and-file LRA combatants or else
they will return to life in the bush. For the LRA leaders, there is
no place to go because if they sign a deal, the LRA ceases to exist
and they must be offered a situation, such as exile, that is better
than a return to the bush war. The analysis also recognizes the
potential value of third parties -- local elected leaders, civil
society, traditional and religious leaders -- in working with the
GoU to win over the LRA. It warns, however, that third parties must
speak with one voice and that when they do not, they become
disruptive and should be removed.

5. (U) USG Activities: Ambassador Browning discussed the current
situation in northern Uganda and options regarding the peace process
with International Crisis Group (ICG) Director John Prendergast and
former mediator, Betty Bigombe, on February 9. Prendergast and
Bigombe shared the following impressions after a week in the north:
(1) There was overwhelming support among IDPs for Kony and Otti to
go into exile while the rank-and-file fighters take amnesty. (2)
IDPs are losing hope that the LRA will agree to peace. (3) The LRA
has been trying to mobilize past collaborators and previously
rescued members to rebuild its ranks. (4) The LRA negotiators do not
represent northern interests.

6. (SBU) ICG fully understands the negative dynamics of the talks.
However, ICG believes the value in keeping the talks going is the
reduction in the level of the conflict. Prendergast was looking for
ways to move the process forward and potential points of leverage
over the LRA. ICG recommends direct engagement of Kony over a deal
that provides him future security and a livelihood, perhaps
third-country exile and a community-backed accountability mechanism.
ICG believes that squeezing the LRA's financial backers, especially
starting the process of closely scrutinizing members of the
diaspora's ties to Kony and Otti, is the logical next step. In
addition, Prendergast noted that an open and transparent planning
process for a concerted military strike by Uganda, Congo, Southern
Sudan, and MONUC could help alter the LRA's perceptions of its

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7. (U) Most security concerns in recent weeks have focused on
Karamoja and the sub-counties of Pader, Lira, Amuria and Katawki
districts that border the Karamoja region. At Monday's meeting of
the Joint Monitoring Committee, for example, the Kitgum district
Chairperson reported four deaths and ten wounded this month as a
result of cattle raids from Kotido. The Chairs of Lira, Katakwi and
Amuria voiced similar concerns, and all recommended greater efforts
at inter-communal peace building aimed at "disarming the Karimojong

8. (U) The situation in the LRA-affected areas has remained quiet.
Kitgum's District Security Officer reported that for the last month
there were no reports of LRA movement inside the district or any
violent acts committed by the Karamojong. Nevertheless, major
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are restricting travel between
March 1-5, after the latest Cessation of Hostilities Agreement
expires. The District Disaster Management Committee and UPDF in
Kitgum disagree on declaring additional areas open for resettlement.
The UPDF spokesman reportedly told the committee that "we are
preparing for war."

9. (U) In contrast, Gulu Resident District Commissioner Walter
Ochora assured IDPs that they do not need to go back to camps and
that the UPDF will provide security whether or not a peace agreement
is signed. The Amuru District Chairperson reported the security
situation as normal, and that people have started returning to their
homesteads. Humanitarian organizations estimate 400,000 IDPs are on
the move to new sites throughout the Acholi Sub-region. Few have
returned all the way home (3,297). The World Food Program's
revalidation exercise confirmed 700,000 IDPs in Gulu and Amuru

10. (U) The judiciary's program to eliminate backlogged court cases
and decongest prisons in northern Uganda will begin another round of
court sessions in five cities on March 5. Principal Judge James
Ogoola will join seven other judges to hear cases in Gulu, Kitgum,
Soroti, Lira, and Kumi for a two-month period. The judges will
handle 534 cases. The Prime Minister's Office is using 215 million
shillings (USD equivalent) to fund the exercise from the
Humanitarian Emergency Action Program for Northern Uganda.

11. (U) A similar exercise undertaken by the "Gulu Civil Court
Sessions" was a joint project between the High Court of Uganda and
Restore International, a U.S.-based NGO. From October-November
2006, six judges heard 104 of 140 cases in Gulu to start clearing
out the backlogged cases. Until recently the courts were unable to
sit due to insecurity in the north, resulting in a build-up of
hundreds of cases. Restore International supported U.S. law
students to prepare the case briefs for the judges. World Bank
funding will be used for reconstruction and furnishing of courts in
the north.

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12. (SBU) Local government officials have requested that all
humanitarian assistance organizations submit budgets for
incorporation into the overall district plans to enhance
coordination, effective reconstruction, and targeting of funds.
District officials say that they cannot operate properly in the
presence of a "parallel government." In Gulu District, over 140
NGOs have complied.

13. (U) Another aspect of the problem is poor coordination between
the central government and local officials. To ensure proper
exchange of information and coordination by the Prime Minister's
office, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees has
asked all major humanitarian donors to report on agencies, by what
kind of assistance in which districts, and has asked the districts
to report in detail down to sub-county level.

14. (U) A key challenge for humanitarian organizations is to
sustain existing services, at the same time they rehabilitate where
populations movements are occurring.

15. (U) USG Activities: USAID's health team spent a week in Gulu
coordinating the Northern Uganda Malaria, AIDS, and TB (NUMAT)
project with partners. The program will assist in the delivery of
services to IDPs and returnees. The team also visited other
USG-funded projects that provide assistance to caregivers for
orphans and vulnerable children, a day care center for young mothers
returning from conflict areas, and youth HIV/AIDS prevention

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16. (U) USAID's Democracy and Governance team leader visited Oyam
District to monitor progress on the Strengthening Decentralization
in Uganda Program from February 12-13. The new district's leaders
are not waiting for donors to help resettle the 140,000 (out of
250,000) residents living in IDP camps. The local government has
cultivated cassava plans to distribute to returning families along
with basic tools. The district officials also plan to give vouchers
to individuals who help rebuild area roads. The vouchers could be
used to obtain oxen and plows. The district plans to invest heavily
in infrastructure repair to help farmers get crops to markets. With
their limited resources, districts will be able to meet but a
limited number of returnees' needs.

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17. (U) Uganda Conflict Action Network (Uganda-CAN) is mobilizing a
telephone-call campaign on March 1 to place pressure on Congress for
the U.S. Government to take a more active role in the peace process.
Uganda-CAN also published an editorial in the Government-run New
Vision newspaper on February 13. UGANDA-CAN states that the
"current intractability of the situation can also be blamed on the
international community, which has retained a largely passive
position. The current impasse highlights the critical need for
external confidence-building, inducements, sanctions and technical
assistance to rejuvenate the peace process. Among other actions,
the international community could strengthen the Cessation of
Hostilities Monitoring Team, inject accountability into the process,
assist the mediator, sanction "spoilers" in the LRA external wing,
and bolster security for the displaced. Generic statements from the
diplomatic community do not go far enough; only serious action will
bring regional stability in not only Uganda, but also Sudan and the
Democratic Republic of Congo."

18. (U) On February 14, a Government of South Sudan press release
issued after a meeting between the President of South Sudan and
Ugandan Interior Minister Rugunda stated that there was considerable
support for the GOSS's continued mediation role from the
international community. The press release also said that this
support "included specific support from the Government of the United
States of America for the continuation of the Juba peace process."
The statement praises Kenya and South Africa for showing solidarity
with the Juba process.

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