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Cablegate: Northern Uganda: Another Attempt to Meet Kony

VZCZCXRO4537
RR RUEHGI RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #0555/01 1131244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221244Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0243
INFO RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0712
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUEHGI/AMEMBASSY BANGUI 0010
RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 0487
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 3453

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 000555

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PREL MOPS UG SU CG CT
SUBJECT: NORTHERN UGANDA: ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO MEET KONY

KAMPALA 00000555 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) negotiators and
northern elders will attempt to meet with LRA leader Joseph Kony on
May 10. According to the LRA delegation's reported new leader,
James Obita, large crowds and likely international pressure scared
Kony off on April 10. The LRA delegation will attend a gathering of
legal experts to understand the national justice framework that
would be set up before going to Rikwangba with northern elders.
Obita said Kony should explain why the LRA had abducted children in
Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), and southern Sudan. He also raised the issue of personal,
financial, and security guarantees for Kony and his High Command.
End Summary.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
MAY 10 MEETING WITH ELDERS, LRA TEAM
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) Dr. James Obita, who claims he is the new leader of the
LRA negotiating team, told P/E Chief on April 20 that he had spoken
to Kony a day earlier. Obita and delegation member Santo Okot were
in Kampala after escorting Kony's sister and a wife from Nabanga,
near the Rikwangba assembly area. (Note: This wife is a former
abductee, who is now a secondary school student in Gulu. End Note.)
Both Obita and Okot separately gave P/E Chief the same version of
Kony's conversation. The wife "let Kony have it" and berated him
for not showing up at Rikwangba. She said that he had alienated all
of the northerners. She also reportedly complained about waiting in
cramped and squalid conditions at Nabanga. She allegedly told Kony
that he was going to die in the bush if he did not work with
Government of Southern Sudan mediator Riek Machar and U.N. Special
Envoy Joachim Chissano. She said Kony's only way out was to sign
the agreement. Kony allegedly told her that she had only suffered a
few days waiting at Nabanga, while he was suffering badly in the
heavy rains. At the end of the conversation, Kony reportedly agreed
to meet the northern elders.

3. (SBU) According to Obita, Kony needed an explanation of why he
should face three forms of justice: mato oput, Special Division of
the High Court, and the International Criminal Court. Obita told
P/E Chief that Kony's questions illustrate his lack of understanding
of the agreement. Okot said that Kony rejected Machar's proposed
meeting date of April 26. (Note: The LRA leader fears being trapped
and views dates set by others with deep suspicion. End Note.) Kony
also does not understand the disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration process and what it means for his fighters, according
to Obita.

4. (U) Minister of Internal Affairs Ruhakana Rugunda confirmed a
meeting of legal experts will take place in Kampala from May 6-8 to
discuss the Special Division of the High Court and other
requirements for the agreement's legal framework. Obita and other
LRA delegates will attend before taking northern elders and
religious and traditional leaders to Rikwangba to see Kony.

5. (SBU) Obita said the May 10 meeting will be exclusively the LRA
delegates and northern leaders. He stated that the "jamboree" that
developed around the April 10 signing date scared off Kony, who
believed he was coming to meet northern leaders. Kony reportedly
felt the large gathering of international observers, diplomats, and
journalists was intended to pressure him into signing an agreement
he had not yet seen, according to Obita. He expected that there
would be an attempt by Riek Machar also to meet Kony in early May.

6. (SBU) Rugunda, told P/E on April 20 that he was skeptical of
anyone who claimed to have spoken to Kony. Nonetheless, the
Government supported Obita's attempt to explain the agreement to
Kony by northern elders and the Acholi members of the LRA
delegation. Rugunda agreed with Obita that the May 10 meeting
should be kept between Kony, his team, and the elders. If Kony
agreed to sign, another date could be arranged, according to
Rugunda. However, he was not optimistic that Kony would sign the
agreement.

- - - - - - - -
OBITA INTERVIEW
- - - - - - - -

7. (U) Obita gave an interview on April 14, which appeared in the
Sunday Monitor on April 20. Obita was asked about the reports that
the LRA was moving to Central African Republic (CAR) and the group's
continued abduction of children. Obita replied, "I am not the best
person to explain this; it is Joseph (Kony) who should be explaining
why his troops went to CAR. For instance, in the last three months,
about 55 youth (30 boys and 25 girls) are missing from the southern
Sudanese state of Western Equatoria from Tumbura, Ezo, and Yambio.

KAMPALA 00000555 002.2 OF 002


I wonder why they continue to abduct children from Congo, CAR, and
Sudan, which is mediating and continue to say they are committed to
peace."

8. (U) The other key issue Obita touched upon was personal security
guarantees for Kony. Obita said that "I know he wants personal and
financial and security guarantees but I don't know how much he
wants. And even if I did, those are private negotiations."

- - - -
COMMENT
- - - -

9. (SBU) Expectations are likely to once again build over the May
10 meeting of Kony and the elders. While Obita, Okot, and other
Acholi members of the LRA negotiating team claim to have direct
contact with Kony, they have yet to demonstrate that they have any
influence over him. Kony's personal and financial security is
likely key to his decision to exit from the bush, but to date he has
not reached out to discuss those issues.
BROWNING

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