Cablegate: Northern Politicians Share Their Perspectives On

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1. (SBU) Summary: Africa Bureau Deputy Assistant Secretary
James Swan discussed the prospects for peace, the commitment
of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Government of Uganda
to a negotiated settlement, justice and accountability
mechanisms, and potential pressure on the LRA would be useful
in moving the process forward on May 8 with northern
parliamentarians. Members of parliament from non-Acholi
districts felt excluded from humanitarian assistance efforts.
Another MP raised the issue of the LRA's designation of as a
terrorist organization as blocking negotiations. Debate also
occurred about the impact of the release of women and
children would have on the LRA's willingness to negotiate.
Several of the parliamentarians view the International
Criminal Court indictments as an impediment to the process.
Some of the MPs that have attended sessions at Juba expressed
disappointment at the obstructionist behavior of the LRA
delegates at Juba. Finally, one MP stated that additional
pressure on the LRA could be counterproductive. End Summary.

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2. (SBU) DAS Swan, Ambassador Browning, P/E Chief, and USAID
Democracy and Governance Deputy Team Leader met with the
Leader of Opposition, Morris Latigo on May 8 on a range of
issues. Latigo is from Pader District in northern Uganda.
Opposition MPs represent all of the northern districts, a
political reality that contributes to the feeling of northern
marginalization. According to Latigo, if the LRA
negotiations fail, it would be difficult for northerners to
go back to the previous situation of camp living. Latigo
said because most northerners are moving out of the camps,
that they would support a more robust military security
cordon should the LRA re-enter Uganda. Latigo stated that
LRA leaders have accepted that they would have to face some
consequences for their actions.

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3. (SBU) During a separate meeting on May 8 with twelve
parliamentarians from the LRA-affected districts in northern
Uganda, DAS Swan discussed the prospects for peace, the
commitment of the LRA to a negotiated settlement, justice and
accountability mechanisms, and what pressure on the LRA, if
any, would be helpful to move the process forward.

4. (SBU) Several non-Acholi parliamentarians expressed a
feeling of exclusion from the benefits of humanitarian
assistance. They stressed that the LRA-affected "north" goes
beyond the Acholi region, where relief and development
efforts appear to be focused. One MP voiced concerns over
alleged donor promises to internally-displaced persons that
were not being kept, specifically the resettlement kits that
internally-displaced persons (IDPs) felt were promised.
Ambassador Browning assured the parliamentarians that U.S.
Government funding is spread throughout the districts.

5. (SBU) Reagan Okumu, member of Parliament from Gulu
District, requested more U.S. involvement in the Juba peace
process. He stated that the GOU's emphasis on the LRA as a
terrorist organization was overshadowing a resolution and
threatening the peace negotiations. The LRA needed to be
de-linked from the war on terror and from Uganda's past
relationships in eastern Congo. He acknowledged that the GOU
has a greater role to play in a resolution to the issue
because of the LRA's implications within the region. Another
MP asked what were the implications of the LRA being on a
U.S. terrorist list. Ambassador Browning and Swan assured
the parliamentarians that the LRA's presence on the terrorist
designation list was not an impediment to the negotiations.
Swan emphasized the importance that the U.S. placed on the
African mediation efforts to end the conflict.

6. (SBU) Okello Okello from Kitgum District noted that the
security situation had improved to the point where
northerners could travel at night for the first time in
twenty years. Okello attended the resumption of the talks
and was disappointed by the obstructionist behavior of the
LRA delegates. Okello stressed that if there was no good
faith on the part of the delegations, Juba would not bring
anything to northern Uganda. Many of the members of
parliament believe that the ICC remains a roadblock to the
process because the LRA leaders will not sign a final
agreement as long as the charges remain.

7. (SBU) Betty Amongi, from Apac District and an observer in
some of the Juba negotiating sessions, stated that she

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believes that Kony had "become willing" to go to a Ugandan
prison rather than The Hague. She advocated that the GOU
develop a combination of relevant local mechanisms (Acholi,
Lango, Teso, and West Nile) and a national legal process for
presentation to the LRA leaders and to the ICC. She also
pointed out that the donor-funded Juba Initiative Fund does
not provide for the presence of leaders from the LRA-affected

8. (SBU) Jimmy Akena, the son of former President Milton
Obote from Lira District, played an important role in keeping
the LRA at the negotiating table in October and November of
2006, according to government negotiators. Akena expressed
concern that additional pressure on the LRA in the form of
military threats or increased Congolese involvement could
cause the process to lose momentum. He said that the current
security situation gave the IDPs "breathing space" to regain
their lives.

9. (SBU) Beatrice Atim, from Kitgum District, and other
female parliamentarians want more pressure on the LRA to
release children and increased involvement by women in the
peace process. However, this proposition elicited some
dissent from the other parliamentarians present. Atim added
that the LRA viewed as "unnecessary" the demand to release
the children, some of whom they claimed were not abductees
but LRA family members. Akena stated that the release of the
captives would make the LRA leaders feel more vulnerable to
attack and therefore less secure, which could prolong the

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10. (SBU) The parliamentarians appreciated the opportunity
to share their views with high-level U.S. officials.
Northern parliamentarians are frustrated that they are not
playing a larger role at the negotiations as the elected
representatives of the people of the north. The MPs are
particularly disillusioned with the LRA delegates at Juba and
have told them that they do not represent the interests of
northern Ugandans. The Government of Uganda recognizes that
these parliamentarians are a strong counterbalance to the LRA
delegates and has made space on its team for two
representatives of northern constituencies, parliamentarians,
local elected leaders, and religious and traditional leaders.
The filling of the slots is on a rotational basis.

© Scoop Media

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