Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (January 1-31, 2008)

DE RUEHKM #0235/01 0371029
R 061029Z FEB 08






E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The following Northern Uganda Notes provide
information on the situation on the ground and USG activities aimed
at meeting Mission 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 talks resumed on January 30, with the U.S. and European
Union named as official observers. The Government of Uganda and
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) signed an extension of the Cessation of
Hostilities Agreement (CHA) until February 29. The parties also
agreed to a timetable to accelerate the talks.

3. (SBU) LRA leader Joseph Kony reshuffled his delegation on
January 23. He had met with the delegation near Rikwangba on
January 22. After the group returned to Juba, Kony then announced
via teleconference that he dropped several members of his
negotiating team, including the head of delegation, Martin Ojul, on
January 23. The new LRA delegation consists of: Dr. David Matsanga
(head), James Obita (deputy), Willy Oryem, Anyena Odongo (legal
advisor), Yusef Adek, Justine Labeja, Santa Okot, and Peter Ongom.
Seven other members from the diaspora and within northern Uganda
also were named. In November, Kony had become concerned about Ojul
because the LRA leader believed that Ojul was funneling peace
process funds to his cousin, LRA deputy Vincent Otti. Kony cited
"profiteering" as the reason for Ojul's dismissal and accused him of
accepting USD 200,000 from the Government of Uganda.

4. (SBU) Press reports describe Matsanga as a hard-line member of
the diaspora. He hails from eastern, not northern, Uganda. He was
a member of the Uganda People's Congress party and fled Uganda in
1985. He attempted to overthrow former President Milton Obote from
the UPC party's leadership in 2005. He used his World Media Limited
organization to defend Zimbabwean President Mugabe and brought
Britain's Sky Television into the LRA camp in September 2006. In
the past, he was critical of GOSS mediator Riek Machar and pushed
for the re-location of the talks.

5. (U) U.N. Special Envoy for LRA-Affected Areas Joachim Chissano
visited Kampala from January 24-26 to meet with President Museveni.
He met with the LRA delegation in Nairobi on January 28.

6. (U) On January 21, LRA defectors Sunday Otto and Richard
Odong-kau received re-affirmation of their amnesty. Amnesty
Commissioner Justice Onenga explained that there were exceptional
circumstances involved in their cases and that their previously
granted amnesty was re-instated. Vincent Okema, Ojok Alex, and
Okello Opio received their amnesty certificates. The Amnesty
Commission was unable to provide their amnesty packages due to a
lack of funds.

7. (U) USG Activities: P/E Chief briefed Kenny Fenechek of Resolve
Uganda, on January 3 and Julia Spiegel of ENOUGH on January 24 on
current status and dynamics of the peace talks. P/E Chief and PAO
met with student groups from the University of Virginia's Human
Rights Law Project and the University of Pennsylvania's Law School
on January 2 and 7.

8. (U) Senior Advisor for Conflict Resolution Tim Shortley met with
Ugandan government officials, European partners, and Chissano during
a visit to Kampala from January 24-27. He traveled to Juba to
participate in the resumption of the peace talks on January 30 in
Juba. Uganda Desk Officer Bisola Ojikutu visited Uganda from
January 28 to February 5.

9. (U) Business Executives for National Security, a group of
private U.S. business owners, traveled to Gulu on January 23 to
assess the security and humanitarian situation. The group also met
with Ugandan Government officials and businessmen in Kampala.

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10. (U) Freedom of movement and forced evictions have become the
top protection issue in the Acholi sub-region. There was growing
pressure from landowners and Government for the displaced population

KAMPALA 00000235 002 OF 003

(IDPs) to return home. The issue was highlighted during a series
of workshops and community meetings in Acholi sub-region in January.
A key conclusion was that balanced camp closure procedures were
urgently needed to handle a multitude of issues related to returns,
camp closure, and transformation of camps into viable communities.
Members of the humanitarian community noted that these procedures
should consider options for populations that would stay in the
camps/trading centers for economic opportunities or because they are
unable to move. Another component of the issue is how to normalize
these areas, including transitioning to renting or leasing land.

11. (U) In the short-term, it would be important to consider the
coping mechanisms many households were employing by keeping one foot
in the camp and one foot in the return area. In the absence of a
final peace agreement, large segments of the population remain
apprehensive that the relatively secure environment of the past two
years would not hold. Recent radio broadcasts by Museveni, setting
deadlines for the LRA, and Kony's public remarks that it was not
safe to go home, have added to the level of concern among IDPs.

12. (U) Returns across the Acholi sub-region continue at a
relatively slow pace. In addition to lack of a peace deal, IDPs
cite the lack of building materials, clean water, education,
healthcare and roads as impediments to return. There was widespread
bush burning in order to clear fields and hunt, that has limited the
amount of grass available for thatching material. The burning was
largely uncontrolled and had become a public hazard. In some cases,
private property was destroyed. Local leaders have begun community
outreach and radio announcements to address the issue. In the short
term, bush burning does reduce labor required to clear fields, a
priority for most households.

13. (U) USG Activities: USAID held a meeting of its northern
Uganda partners in Gulu, January 24. A key concern was growing
tensions between local government and NGOs. Tensions are
particularly high in Gulu District, where Government representatives
frequently broadcast complaints about NGOs over the radio. There
are many NGOs that do not coordinate with local Government, operate
without Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), or have poor performance
record. Local governments would like to increase their coordination
and oversight of activities in their districts. However, they have
a limited capacity to do so, poor internal communication between
line ministries and political leadership in Kampala, and no
consistent policies on MOUs. USAID's partners have sought support
to help standardize MOUs and coordination procedures with local
governments and to help educate local officials on how donor funding
works. USAID will be reaching out to northern leaders to discuss
these issues and what steps might be taken.

14. (U) USAID launched three new conflict management and mitigation
(CMM) programs for northern Uganda. Pader Peace-building with Mercy
Corps, Internews training and program development with radio
journalists, Civil Society participation in the Peace Recovery and
Development Plan (PRDP) with CARE, and the new SPRING program that
will work in three areas, peace building, livelihoods, and access to

15. (U) A Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) Civil
Affairs team conducted a month long Veterinary Civic Action Program
(VETCAP) in Gulu and Amuru Districts during the month of January.
The VETCAP assisted the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal
Industry and Fisheries in completing a district wide surveillance,
treatment and control program for Trypanosomiaisis, tsetse fly and
rabies. The project provided hands on training to Ugandan
veterinarian students from Makerere University and local animal
health care providers in designing a comprehensive district wide
herd health program, tsetse fly control program, infectious disease
diagnostic program and zoonotic disease control programs. Training
on avian influenza was conducted and the proper method of
inoculating for Newcastle Disease was demonstrated. The project
also assisted the Ugandan government in providing healthy livestock
to civilians relocating from IDP camps to their former villages.
The seven person team from CJTF HOA, working with their Ugandan
counterparts, treated over 30,000 animals at 42 different sites.

16. (U) The CJTF HOA Civil Affairs Team, based in Kitgum, continued
construction of the Children's Ward for the District Referral
Hospital and a library in Kitgum. The team continued to evaluate
potential future projects as well as develop plans for drilling new
boreholes and refurbishing broken boreholes.

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17. (U) The Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern
Uganda (CSOPNU) ran an announcement in the Saturday New Vision on
January 25 calling for a speedy resumption of the peace talks at
Juba, arguing that continued delay threatens to derail the process
and prolong suffering in Northern Uganda.

18. (U) The Sunday Monitor on January 27 carried an editorial
entitled "No So Innocent Bystanders to Juba Talks" by Adrian
Bradbury and Peter Quaranto of GuluWalk and Resolve Uganda.
Bradbury and Quaranto compare what they describe "as the
international community's response or lack thereof surrounding the
faltering Juba peace process. The diplomatic corps, hampered by
fatigue and impatience, has adopted a wait-and-see approach as
events unfold." The authors praise the role of Riek Machar, the
Southern Sudanese mediator for keeping the process in motion despite
domestic issues in Sudan and describe U.N. Special Envoy for
LRA-Affected Areas Joachim Chissano as a crucial intermediary, but
state that "his position too remains only part-time."

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19. (U) On January 29, the following U.S. Statement on the
Resumption of the Peace Talks in Juba was released from the

The United States welcomes the resumption of the peace talks in
Juba, South Sudan, between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's
Resistance Army aimed at ending the 22 year conflict.

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, has asked
her Senior Advisor for Conflict Resolution, Tim Shortley, to be
present in Juba on January 30 to work with the mediator and parties
on moving the peace process forward. The United States supports the
peace talks, and maintains that the process cannot be open-ended.
We urge the parties to work expeditiously on an agreement mechanism
on accountability and reconciliation.

The United States will work with the Government of Uganda and the
international community to provide robust support for reconstruction
and recovery efforts in Northern Uganda.


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