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Cablegate: Sudan/Uganda/Drc: Un Humanitarian Chief Meets Head Of

DE RUEHKH #2694/01 3230829
P 190829Z NOV 06




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Sudan/Uganda/DRC: UN Humanitarian Chief Meets Head of
Lord's Resistance Army

Ref: Khartoum 02666

1. (U) SUMMARY: Lord's Resistance Army LRA rebel chief Joseph Kony
pressed for the withdrawal of Ugandan forces from Southern Sudan
during a brief meeting with UN Under Secretary General (USYG) Jan
Egeland on November 12 at the village of Nabanga on the Sudan-Congo
border. Kony refused Egeland's request to release captive women,
children, and sick people to Egeland's custody. Kony also told the
press "there are no children" in the LRA. Though Egeland admitted
that the mood of the meeting was "tense" and "somber," he judged it
a success and urged greater international support for ongoing peace
talks. The LRA delegation to the talks remained behind in Nabanga
for further discussions with LRA leadership, as did mediators from
the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and the UN. End Summary.

LRA Leaders Want Security, UPDF Withdrawal

2. (U) In an estimated 15-20 minute meeting with Egeland near the
village of Nabanga on the Sudan-Congo border November 12, LRA chief
Joseph Kony focused almost exclusively on security questions,
complaining that the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) are not
respecting the recently-renewed Cessation of Hostilities Agreement
COHA). Kony pressed for a complete UPDF withdrawal from Southern
Sudan. Egeland, who departed Juba the following day for a meeting
with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, later appeared to
endorse the request, stating that "ideally" the UPDF should withdraw
to the Ugandan border.

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3. (U) LRA second-in-command Vincent Otti, who had a much longer
meeting with Egeland prior to Kony's arrival at the site, also
complained that UPDF deployments had prevented the LRA from
gathering at the designated assembly areas of Owiny-Kibul (east of
the Nile on the Sudan-Uganda border) and Ri-Kwangba (west of the
Nile near the Sudanese village of Nabanga, and the site of the
meeting with Egeland.

4. (SBU) Egeland described Kony as calm, coherent, and clearly in
control. Only Kony and Otti spoke to the visitors. Kony listened
to questions in English without translation and replied in Acholi.
Arrangements for the meeting were "extraordinarily tense," Egeland
said, and the LRA leaders were "the most paranoid I have ever seen"
about their own security. GoSS Vice President Riek Machar, chief
mediator in the peace talks, accompanied Egeland to the meeting and
acquiesced in an LRA demand that all armed elements - including
Egeland's personal protection detail -- maintain a distance of 100
meters from the discussion site. Egeland's security detail also
relinquished their weapons during the meeting, and participants were
required to remove body armor.

5. (U) Near the end of the meeting with Kony, Otti asked Egeland to
help persuade the International Criminal Court (ICC) to lift the
indictments against Kony, Otti, and two other LRA commanders.
Egeland said he told the LRA leaders that the ICC is an independent
body over which he has no direct influence. He urged the LRA to
remain committed to the peace talks and to comply with current
agreements, which would improve the LRA's international image.

Complaints About Food, Water

6. (U) Otti complained that food provided by the GoSS at the
Ri-Kwangba assembly point was rotting, and UN officials confirmed
separately that there is no adequate water supply at the site.
Egeland outlined detailed plans to provide humanitarian assistance
at the site. The Catholic relief organization Caritas, through its
Uganda office, has received funding to supply humanitarian
assistance at Ri-Kwangba, Egeland explained. In his separate
briefing of diplomats, Egeland admitted that there is not
significant LRA presence at either of the designated assembly
"per se," but said LRA units are in the vicinity of both locations.

UNMIS Will Assist, MONUC Won't

7. (SBU) Egeland and a delegation of 60 persons flew to the meeting
site in three UNMIS helicopters. Egeland subsequently announced
that "UNMIS has agreed to provide logistical support" to the
Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT) set up under the
COHA. UNMIS officials in Juba had earlier balked at providing such
assistance, citing directives from UN headquarters in New York.
Asked whether MONUC could help monitor LRA activities in DRC, or
prevent the dispersal of LRA units away from Garamba National Park
(where Kony and Otti are believed to be based), Egeland said MONUC
officials have told him they "have nothing close to this capacity."
There had once been an effort by the United States and others to
persuade MONUC and UNMIS to assist in apprehending LRA leadership,

KHARTOUM 00002694 002 OF 002

Egeland said, but "this is no longer the focus." The LRA still pose
a military threat, Egeland emphasized. He estimated total LRA
strength, "including captives," at 5000 people. The LRA remain
"incredibly effective as a terror producer and as an armed militia."
He had consulted with colleagues in MONUC, Egeland said, who were
"impressed with how mobile and how well armed the LRA is." LRA
units are "scattered," Egeland said, but retain "central command
structure" and "take orders."

No Release of Captives

8. (U) Prior to his face-to-face meeting with LRA leadership,
Egeland had pressed for the release of an unspecified number of
women, children, and sick people. In what Egeland admitted were
"sometimes heated" telephone conversations ahead of the meeting,
Otti had already made it clear that no captives were likely to be
released. Kony confirmed this during his discussion with Egeland,
and later told the press there are "no children" in the LRA.
However, Egeland noted, one LRA combatant is currently receiving
medical attention in Juba with the approval of the GoSS, and such
initiatives might continue. Egeland also raised the issue of 15
girls from the Nabanga area who were abducted by the LRA in February
and March 2006. He said the LRA leadership had no direct response
concerning these girls. Egeland said the LRA leaders agreed to
continue the dialogue about the potential release of captives and
provide a final answer to his request in about a month.

Accentuating the Positive, Seeking Support

9. (SBU) Egeland accentuated positive aspects of the current peace
process in his meeting with the LRA, private briefings in Juba, and
remarks to the press. He also warned of the potential "catastrophe"
should talks break down. Hundreds of thousands of IDPs in northern
Uganda have returned to their homes since the talks began, Egeland
said, and there have been "no major attacks" since last August.
"Everyone I talk to" says the LRA are not responsible for recent
violence east and south of Juba, Egeland said. There were doubts
about the peace initiative when it began, but this genuinely
"African-led" process has drawn wide international support. He
urged donors to deliver quickly on their pledges, and provide
additional assistance.

10. (U) Egeland said there were $4.7 million in pledges so far for
the Juba Initiative Fund, both to support the current peace talks
and fund related initiatives. The "talks would have broken down"
had donors not intervened to pay three months of accumulated hotel
bills, Egeland claimed. The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden,
the United Kingdom, and Canada have all made pledges, Egeland said,
and Ireland, France, and Italy have signaled the intent to
contribute. A European Commission representative at Egeland's
briefing said her organization was also likely to provide

Mediators, LRA Delegation Remain Behind

11. (U) Most of the LRA delegation to the current peace talks
traveled to Nabanga with Egeland, but remained behind after he left.
They and a small group of GoSS and UN mediators want to consult
further with LRA leadership and develop a clearer LRA response to
current proposals for a protocol addressing "root causes" of the LRA
conflict. Egeland and others in the November 12 meeting with Kony
and Otti noted that neither leader raised any of the issues that
have preoccupied the talks for weeks, including federalism,
reparations, and the creation of a new government ministry for
northern Uganda. The remainder of the group that traveled to
Nabanga is due to return to Juba on November 15. Several
international journalists also remained in Nabanga seeking further
opportunities to interview Kony and report on LRA activities.


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