Cablegate: Uganda: Scenesetter for Congressional Staff Delegation

DE RUEHKM #1050/01 1771229
R 261229Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Uganda is a productive player for U.S. policy
interests in Africa, with Ugandan troops deploying to Somalia
assisted by U.S. money and logistics. On the humanitarian and
development side, Uganda vigorously supports a number of U.S.
initiatives including Presidential initiatives on HIV/AIDS (PEPFAR)
and malaria (PMI), and U.S. free trade and free market objectives.
Uganda cooperates fully in the War on Terror, and is highly
receptive to U.S. training and presence.

2. (SBU) Uganda also has a number of challenges. Uganda's search
for a peaceful resolution to the 21-year long conflict with the
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues, but is stalled because of
delaying tactics at the negotiating table by the LRA delegates in
Juba, southern Sudan. The Ugandan military is facing serious
challenges as it carries out a forcible disarmament program in
Karamoja, which has resulted in numerous deaths. The United States
is the largest bilateral donor for humanitarian efforts to assist
the 1.5 million displaced persons in northern Uganda. President
Museveni is facing significant internal pressure from within the
ruling party on issues of succession, accountability, and human
rights and media freedoms. Museveni supports liberal market
principles and foreign investment, although corruption remains a
problem. Uganda recently was approved for a Threshold Program with
the Millenium Challenge Corporation, and will receive $10 million
for anti-corruption measures. Uganda reduced its HIV/AIDS rate from
18 percent in 1992 to 6.4 percent in 2006, and received $236 million
in 2007 as a focus country for the President's Emergency Plan for
AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). End Summary.

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3. (SBU) The security situation in northern Uganda improved
dramatically over the past year. The insurgent Lord's Resistance
Army (LRA), which was pushed into Congo in December 2005, agreed to
negotiate with the Government of Uganda. Talks began in July 2006
and yielded a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA). LRA
combatants have moved out of northern Uganda. With the exception of
a few small groups, those in southern Sudan have moved toward
Rikwangba, a designated assembly area in southern Sudan. There have
been LRA attacks along key roads between Uganda and Juba, but since
August 2006, there has been just one in northern Uganda. The LRA's
top leadership remains in Garamba National Park in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

4. (SBU) The peace process continues at Juba, Southern Sudan
mediated by GOSS Vice President Riek Machar. U.N. Special Envoy for
LRA-Affected Areas, former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano,
adeptly overcame the LRA's complaints about the mediator, per diem,
the venue for the talks, and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
warrants in April. The talks reconvened with the parties reaching
agreement on Agenda Item Two: Comprehensive Solutions on May 1.
Currently, the parties are working on the third agenda item, Justice
and Accountability Mechanisms. Both sides agreed that a national
legal solution combined with traditional reconciliation mechanisms
would be the basis for discussions. Despite LRA procedural
machinations that would lead to protracted delays in discussions,
the GOU has accommodated many of the LRA's demands. The talks will
likely recess in coming weeks for the parties to consult with key
stakeholders in northern Uganda.

5. (SBU) In northeastern Uganda, the Government's forcible
disarmament program has coincided with increased insecurity and
violence in Karamoja. Humanitarian agencies report that the
security situation in Kotido, Kaabong, and Abim districts continues
to deteriorate as the result of armed confrontations between the
UPDF and Karamojong warriors.

6. (SBU) Ugandan troops deployed to Somalia as part of an African
Union Peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM) in March. President Museveni,
during his tenure as head of IGAD, oversaw the establishment of the
Transitional Federal Government and Institutions, and committed to
send Ugandan troops. The Ugandans believe that a stable Somalia is
necessary for peace and stability throughout East Africa, especially
for ending the flow of small arms into Karamoja. Uganda wants other
African countries which pledged troops to follow through on their
commitment to join Ugandan's 1500 troops. Uganda's Major General
Levi Karahunga, a veteran of the Liberia peacekeeping mission, is
AMISOM's force commander. The U.S. continues to provide support for
Uganda's AMISOM deployment through the African Contingency Response
Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. Training is underway for
Uganda's two battalions that will rotate into Somalia in August.

7. (SBU) Uganda is proud to be part of the fight against global
terror. Government officials are preoccupied with the spread of
Arab fundamentalism. They frequently and publicly make the
distinction between Arab states, such as Sudan and Eritrea and black

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African neighbors. Uganda is a predominately Christian country and
promotes good relations with its Muslim community.

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8. (SBU) The 21-year old LRA conflict displaced over 1.5 million
people. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons
(IDPs) have returned near or to their lands as the result of
improved security. Residents of Lango and Teso district have left
IDP camps and those in Gulu are beginning to do so in higher
numbers. The Government lacks a clear, consistent message on
returns, which has been a particular problem in Kitgum, the district
closest to the border with Sudan.

9. (SBU) The improved security situation has led to a decline in
the numbers of night commuters--children who seek sleep in shelters
to avoid abduction from the LRA--to 2,700, according to UNICEF.
These numbers are down from 23,885 in December 2005. Surveys
indicate the number of children that continue to commute do so for
reasons other than fear of abduction, such as domestic abuse and
availability of services.

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10. (SBU) Various Mission agencies are working together to enhance
peace and security in northern Uganda through a three-pronged
strategy of humanitarian, political, and military assistance. Our
overall assistance in FY06 exceeded $88 million. The U.S. is the
largest bilateral donor of food assistance for the 1.5 million
displaced persons and refugees. We provide a variety of other
water, health, and sanitation assistance. We support UNHCR and
others in programs to ensure the safe and voluntary return of
displaced persons to their homes or intermediate locations.

11. (SBU) We have promoted reconciliation, dialogue, and
reintegration of former combatants through USAID programs aimed at
mitigating conflict. Embassy officers in Kampala and Juba engage
with key players in the negotiations. Modest amounts of Defense
Department funds are being used to provide non-lethal assistance to
help the UPDF protect civilians and relief supplies in northern
Uganda. CJTF-HOA is working on humanitarian projects with the UPDF
in northern Uganda to improve civilian-military relations. Post is
using IMET, ACOTA, and ACSS programs as well as participation in
regional exercises to enhance the professionalism of the Ugandan
military. On Somalia, the State Department funded the logistics of
the UPDF's deployment while CJTF-HOA provided logisticians and
members of the DAO's office coordinated the operation with the UPDF.

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12. (SBU) One year after returning to multi-party rule, Uganda is
experiencing growing pains. The ruling National Resistance Movement
(NRM) party is grappling with internal dissent among younger
parliamentarians who resent the monopolistic behavior of the
Movement's "historicals." Museveni also is being challenged by the
historicals, who are interested in succession. Press reports suggest
that the President is increasingly isolated at State House. Some
cabinet members complain that Museveni's personal secretary prevents
them from discussing national issues with him, leaving the President
out-of-touch with ordinary Ugandans. As a result, the government
has made several missteps in the past few months, including the
siege of the High Court by government security agents to prevent the
release of suspects in a treason case.

13. (SBU) Opposition parties remain weak, personality-based, and
susceptible to intimidation and manipulation by the Executive
Branch. The opposition's primary tools are press and protest
because they are substantially outnumbered in parliament and
traditional media outlets are at times intimidated by the

14. (SBU) The government's human rights record needs improvement,
particularly with respect to cases of arbitrary arrest and
detentions and lengthy pre-trial detention. However, the consensus
of a wide range of UN agencies, international and local NGOs, and
civil society organizations indicates that over the past year, the
UPDF has demonstrated marked improvement in respecting the human
rights of the IDPs under their protection in northern Uganda. While
abuses were at one time common, and do still happen (particularly
involving local defense units), they can now be categorized as
individual incidents that do not occur as result of orders from

KAMPALA 00001050 003 OF 004

senior officials, and are no longer part and parcel of the

15. (SBU) The reasons for this improvement are attributable to a
number of factors, including lowered tensions due to a reduction in
the threat level, reassignment of the most notorious UPDF commanders
whose units were associated with human rights abuses, increased
international attention, and ongoing training by the USG, ICRC, and
other organizations on international standards of human rights and
humanitarian law. Organizations continue to monitor abuses and are
working through the UN's cluster approach to improve reporting
measures. The forcible disarmament program in Karamoja, however,
has opened up the UPDF to new allegations of abuse, particularly
extensive force.

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16. (SBU) President Museveni is a steadfast supporter of free
market principles and remains committed to liberalizing the economy,
containing inflation, and encouraging economic growth, and foreign
investment. Foreign debt has dropped from over USD 6 billion in
2004 to USD 1.6 billion in 2007 through debt relief programs.
Uganda is attempting to diversify its agriculture-based economy,
focusing on non-traditional, high-value items such as vanilla,
processed fish, and cut flowers. The pace of economic growth has
remained consistent over the last twelve years with annual GDP
growth rates between 5-6 percent. Foreign direct investment is
increasing. The fastest growing sectors are construction,
transportation and telecommunications. Uganda's tourism industry is
earning a significant amount of foreign exchange.

17. (SBU) The GOU is trying to manage public expectations regarding
oil discoveries in Uganda. In October 2006, the Canadian firm,
Heritage Oil, announced the first oil discovering on the shores of
Lake Albert. The other exploration company, Australian-based
Hardman, is partnering with Tullow, a British firm. Libya's TamOil
is the primary investor in a proposed pipeline from Uganda to Kenya.
Chinese firms are also interested in expanding their investments to
include Uganda's oil. General Electric's Oil and Gas division based
in Italy is interested in identifying potential projects in this
sector, but is waiting to see if the next project tenders for
oil-related projects will be transparent.

18. (SBU) An ongoing energy crisis, corruption and inadequate
transport infrastructure have hampered economic development and
investor confidence. The energy crisis, which started in late 2005
due to poor energy planning coupled with a significant drop in Lake
Victoria water levels, severely decreased electricity generation
from hydroelectric power. Recent rains are increasing hydroelectric
power output and new leadership in the Ministry of Energy has added
100 megawatts of thermal generator power to help fill the power gap.
Uganda was approved by the Millenium Challenge Corporation for a
two-year $10.4 million Threshold Country Program (TCP) in Uganda to
provide technical assistance, training and equipment to the
Government of Uganda's anti-corruption agencies and the civil
society organizations.

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19. (SBU) Uganda is a focus country for the President's Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and received $236 million in PEPFAR
funds in FY 2007 for the Centers for Disease Control, USAID, NIH,
Peace Corps, and Defense and State Department programs. The program
is one of the largest in Africa, along with South Africa, Kenya,
Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The PEPFAR Program in Uganda is being
implemented in partnership with over 70 international and local

20. (SBU) Uganda is one of the few countries in the world that has
successfully brought its prevalence rates down. Uganda's HIV/AIDS
infection rate peaked at 18 percent in 1992 and has decreased to 6.4
percent in 2006. The decline is largely the result of an aggressive
public awareness campaign and significant donor support for programs
that provide comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support
services for those infected and living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and
vulnerable children, and pregnant mothers. The highest prevalence
rates are in the northern conflict regions and the central region.

21. (SBU) The estimated 135,000 new infections over the past year
have caused concern that Uganda's success to date could be
threatened. Transmission occurs mainly through heterosexual contact
(75 to 80 percent), while mother-to-child HIV transmission accounts
for 15-25 percent of new infections and medical transmission is
responsible for about two percent of new infections. A recently

KAMPALA 00001050 004 OF 004

conducted sero-behavioral survey indicated that some of the factors
that are driving the epidemic are: an increase in multiple
partners; a decrease in men's consistent use of condoms with casual
partners; a high prevalence (60 percent) of genital herpes, which
predisposes an individual to acquiring HIV; and HIV discordance in
couples, i.e., when one person is HIV positive and the other is HIV

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22. (U) In FY 2006, our Cultural Affairs office sent 51 Ugandans to
the United States on a range of different exchange and educational
grants. In addition, during the 2005-06 academic year, some 588
Ugandans were enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education.
Ugandans value the chance to visit and to study in the United
States, and many Ugandan political and economic leaders are
graduates of U.S. academic programs or former participants in
USG-funded exchanges.

23. (U) The Ugandan press is primarily interested in U.S.
government support for the Museveni government - or opposition
politicians; the availability of U.S. visas; and U.S. aid
(development and humanitarian and military) to Uganda. The press
and public, while aware that the U.S. is a big donor to Uganda,
often fail to understand the mechanics of U.S. foreign assistance
and how to access it for particular communities and individuals.

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24. (SBU) U.S. efforts to mitigate the effects of the conflict in
the North and bring about a resolution and reconciliation to the
conflict in the North dominate our peace and security agenda. More
recently, U.S. assistance for the Ugandan deployment to Somalia has
increased our security focus. We continue to advance our interests
in encouraging multi-partyism and political competition, economic
transparency, and combating HIV/AIDS. Our message to the Museveni
government includes:

--Recognizing Museveni's efforts to bring about a peaceful
resolution to the 21-year old conflict with the LRA. The GOU has
demonstrated restraint and patience during the peace talks at Juba.
The USG supports the Juba venue and Government of South Sudan's
mediation efforts.

--Reaffirming our commitment to working with the GOU to mitigate
regional tensions. We encourage Uganda to continue talking to its
neighbors, particularly Congo, to deal with the regional aspects of
the LRA problem.

--Appreciating Uganda's long-standing commitment to deploy to
Somalia and the high level of professionalism demonstrated during
the deployment preparations.

--Assisting the development of a democratic system, which includes
strong civil society and democratic institutions, respect for human
rights and rule of law, and transparency and accountability.

--Partnering with Uganda in the war against terror. We look forward
to continuing to work with Uganda on the global war on terror and
other programs of bilateral cooperation.

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