Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (April 7-30, 2007)

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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: Post presents the eighteenth 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) On April 15, U.N. Special Envoy for LRA-Affected Areas
Joaquim Chissano briefed the diplomatic corps on the progress made
in his meetings with the LRA. Chissano described a perceptible
change during the April 13 and 14 meetings in the demeanor of the
LRA leadership from his previous encounters with Joseph Kony and
Vincent Otti in March. In the past, the LRA leaders and fighters
were all dressed in combat fatigues. However, during these meetings
the two leaders were dressed in matching suits and ties and other
LRA members wore safari suits.

3. (U) The GOU and LRA agreed to extend the Cessation of
Hostilities Agreement to June 30. LRA members in southern Sudan and
northern Uganda would be allowed to cross the Nile River to assemble
at Rikwangba. The GOU offered to transport the LRA to the assembly
area, but the LRA refused, preferring that its members travel on
foot. Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa would each
provide two observers for the negotiations. The Democratic Republic
of Congo did not send a representative with the team on this visit
because the previous individual had been replaced. Liaison officers
would be posted to a town close to the assembly area to facilitate
the movement of LRA fighters and communication between Rikwangba and

4. (U) On April 25, the eve of the resumption of talks, LRA deputy
commander Vincent Otti participated in a local radio talk show with
UPDF spokesman Felix Kulayigye. Otti stated that the LRA delegates
were in Juba for the talks. He demanded more financial facilitation
and improved security for the delegation, designation of the safe
corridors for the LRA in southern Sudan to assemble, and the lifting
of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrants. Otti also
stated that he believed that all LRA members were going to be
indicted by the ICC. Talk show presenters, who have had
interactions with Otti for the past three years, were concerned that
Otti was spreading that rumor to try to unify the LRA rank-and-file.
Listeners raised concern that Otti's comments may have undone much
of the groundwork laid by Chissano to change the negative dynamics
of the talks.

5. (SBU) USG Activities: Ambassador Browning and P/E Officer met
with Walter Ochora, Resident District Commissioner for Gulu District
on April 19. Ochora was traveling to the U.S. as part of the mass
mobilization campaign being organized by Invisible Children to
highlight the plight of displaced persons in northern Uganda.
Ochora was part of the GOU team that met Kony and Otti on April 13
and 14. He also contacts them by phone on a regular basis to keep
the parallel track open. When asked if he thought the LRA leaders
were ready to negotiate, Ochora said that their body language was
different than on any previous occasion. Ochora believes that the
LRA leaders were beginning to feel guilty about their activities in
northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Ochora said that a settlement
with Kony and Otti was possible and that the two always ask "what do
the Americans say?" He stated that during a photo opportunity, the
LRA leaders changed into new Sudanese military uniforms. Although
Ochora was optimistic about the resumption of the talks, he said
that the LRA leaders remain unpredictable.

6. (SBU) On April 25, P/E Officer attended a briefing by the
Government of Uganda delegation on the resumption of the peace
talks. Government officials were optimistic that significant
progress could be made on Agenda Item Three: Accountability and
Reconciliation Mechanisms. When asked what the LRA leadership's
bottom line was for an agreement to be reached, one member of the
GOU team stated that Kony and Otti want to be able to live out their
lives on a farm, in comfort, and with security. He stated that he
believed that the LRA leaders understood that they will need to go
before the Ugandan legal system and serve some type of a prison

7. (U) A representative of ConGen Juba attended the opening of the
peace talks on April 26. Kampala-based diplomats also attended as a

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sign of support for the peace process. Chissano and Southern
Sudanese President Salva Kiir chaired the opening session and urged
the parties to negotiate in good faith. Kiir stated that the
"stability of Uganda and that of southern Sudan are inseparable."
He expressed concern that the war zone had shifted to southern Sudan
and that the atrocities being committed by the LRA were discrediting
the Government of South Sudan before the citizens of eastern and
western Equatoria. The first session adjourned at approximately the
same time an alleged LRA unit reportedly killed two civilians and
injured a third at Kimoro Village in Magwi Country, Eastern
Equatoria. Press reports indicate that the LRA demanded that the
GOU remove it from international terrorists lists, and written
assurances that the LRA delegation would receive facilitation,
better security, and a framework for dealing with the ICC warrants
during the opening of the peace talks.

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8. (U) On April 2, twelve Sudanese were killed and 14 people
injured, including five Ugandans, in suspected LRA ambushes on three
vehicles in southern Sudan. There also was a report that LRA rebels
associated with Thomas Kwoyello may have raided Mugali village in
Sudan, killing two persons and abducting five others.

9. (U) The Ugandan military reported a clash between the LRA and
UPDF in Eastern Equatoria, southern Sudan, on April 19 that left one
Ugandan soldier dead.

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10. (U) Two hundred landmines and unexploded ordnance were
destroyed in Gulu and Amuru districts over the past two months,
according to the National Mine Action program team. The presence of
landmines and unexploded ordnance has hindered resettlement of
internally-displaced persons in some areas. The team is clearing
areas near satellite camps, trading and health centers, and

11. (SBU) USG Activities: Democracy and Governance Advisor and P/E
Chief met with U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations concerned
about GOU statements that it was investigating NGOs. They reported
that the Resident District Commissioner in Lira announced that some
NGOs may be "blacklisted" when it came time to re-register with the
Government. To date, no U.S.-funded NGOs have been targeted, but
are concerned about negative remarks made by local officials on the
radio. The proliferation of NGOs in northern Uganda, some of which
do not keep the GOU informed of their activities, has contributed to
confusion over what resources are available for development
activities. The scrutiny of the NGOs is one part of a poorly
coordinated GOU strategy to get a better understanding of what is
being done by NGOs. The GOU is using the re-registration exercise
to get that information from NGOs that have not reported activities
to local officials. Another underlying dynamic that bears watching
is an ongoing struggle between the central and local governments
over resources. Local government leaders have complained that the
Prime Minister's Office, in charge of the Northern Uganda Peace,
Development, and Recovery Plan, was trying to deny local districts
funds if NGOs were providing those services.

12. (U) USAID's Peace Support Team Advisor attended the Joint
Monitoring Commission meeting on April 27. Regarding the issue of a
Humanitarian Coordinator, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa told
participants that the emergency phase of operations in northern
Uganda was winding down and that Uganda was working in line with the
UN reform program. At this point, there was no need for a
humanitarian coordinator, according to the Foreign Minister.

13. (U) CARE International commissioned two USAID-funded motorized
water systems on April 19 and announced it would be drilling 15
boreholes and rehabilitating 30 more, and constructing 27 latrines
in selected schools.

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14. (U) The Uganda Conflict Action Network (Uganda CAN)founders
Michael Poffenberger and Peter Quaranto are planning to launch a new
organization, Resolve Uganda, "to build public pressure for the

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necessary political leadership." In an April 19 newsletter,
Poffenberger and Quaranto wrote to listserve recipients, "we know
that the neglect we see from our leaders will be overcome only when
enough people who care unite their resolve to achieve change." They
drew a comparison between the tragedy of the shootings at Virginia
Tech and continued suffering in northern Uganda, quoting poet Nikki
Giovanni's memorial service remark that "No one deserves a tragedy."
Quaranto's op-ed piece, "A Second Chance for Peace in Uganda," was
published by the New Vision on April 16. Hailing the restart of the
Juba talks on April 26, Quaranto argued that one of the lessons
learned from the first round of talks was that lack of involvement
of "several influential actors, including the United States
government" had "perpetrated" mistrust between the government of
Uganda and the LRA. According to Quaranto "greater regional and
international engagement not only would bring leverage but also
build confidence."

15. (U) Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch on April 25 released a
statement from New York welcoming the resumption of the Juba talks,
but emphasizing that "the negotiations must seek an outcome that
also ensures fair and credible prosecutions for the most serious
crimes in northern Uganda." The statement quotes HRW's
International Justice Program Director, Richard Dicker, as stating
that "Impunity would only help fuel future abuses in Uganda. By
painting the ICC as an obstacle to peace, the LRA leaders have been
trying to turn reality upside down." According to the HRW
statement, the UN Security Council could postpone the ICC's
investigation or prosecution for 12 months under article 16 of the
ICC statute, but HRW believes such a move would be a mistake. "In
the absence of credible alternatives at the national level, a
deferral would shield LRA leadership from prosecution, perhaps
indefinitely if renewed. It could also open the door to dangerous
interference by the Security Council in the judicial operations of
the ICC."

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