Cablegate: Uganda: Scenesetter for Codel Lowey (August 18-23)

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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. The Ugandan military is
facing serious challenges as it carries out forcible disarmament of
illegally armed persons in Karamoja, which has resulted in numerous
deaths and alleged human rights violations. 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 pressure from within the ruling party on issues
of succession, accountability, 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 in Juba, Southern Sudan
mediated by GOSS Vice President Riek Machar. In April, 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. He established an international observer team
consisting of representatives from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique,
Congo, and South Africa. This team plays an active and effective
role in keeping the talks moving and addressing complaints from the
parties. The talks reconvened with the parties reaching agreement
on Agenda Item Two: Comprehensive Solutions on May 1 and an
agreement on general principles of accountability and reconciliation
on June 29. Both sides agreed that a national legal solution
combined with traditional reconciliation mechanisms would be the
basis for final resolutions. Despite LRA procedural machinations
that led to delays in discussions, the international observer team
steered the parties into agreeing on the principles for a justice
and reconciliation framework and steps to be taken to develop
mechanisms for its implementation. The talks were recessed for the
parties to consult with key stakeholders in northern Uganda on their
views on accountability. The USG, Norway, Sweden, and the
Netherlands are funding the Government's part of the consultations,
with USAID managing the contributions.

5. (SBU) In northeastern Uganda, humanitarian agencies report that
insecurity in Kotido, Kaabong, and Abim districts has increased as
the result of armed confrontations between the UPDF and illegally
armed Karamojong.

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 and through 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 later this year.

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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
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 sub-regions have
mostly returned to their places of origin while those in Acholi are
beginning to move to new sites closer to their original homes.

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 a few hundred, according to
UNICEF, compared with almost 40,000 in 2003. Surveys indicate the
few hundred 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 water,
health, and sanitation assistance. We support UNHCR and others in
programs to ensure the safe and voluntary return of internally
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 civil-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.
Currently, 1500 Ugandan soldiers are being trained for rotation to
Somalia under the State Department's African Contingency Operations
Training and Support Program (ACOTA).

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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 in March 2007 by government security agents
to prevent the release of suspects in a treason case. The arrests of
former Health Ministry officials has exposed the ruling party's
redirection of immunization funds for partisan political purposes.

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
government. Government intimidation resulted in editorial and
management changes in the independent media's most prominent
newspaper, The Daily Monitor.

14. (SBU) The government's human rights record needs improvement,
particularly with respect to cases of arbitrary arrest and detention
and lengthy pre-trial detention. However, the consensus of a wide

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

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
excessive force.

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16. (SBU) President Museveni is a strong believer in an expanding
African market starting with an enlarged East African Community, and
remains committed to liberalizing the Ugandan 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 western Uganda. In October 2006, the Canadian
firm, Heritage Oil, announced the first oil discovered 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 President
Museveni's enlightened leadership, 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 women. The highest prevalence rates are in
the northern conflict regions and the central region.

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21. (SBU) An 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
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 to the conflict and
reconciliation within the North, and between the North and the
South, 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-party political competition, economic transparency, and
combating HIV/AIDS. Our message to the Museveni government

--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 in Juba.
The USG supports the Juba venue, Government of Southern Sudan's
mediation efforts, and the activism of the UN Special Envoy and the
African observers.

--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 preparations.

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

--Acknowledging the Government's commitment to combating HIV/AIDS
and recognizing Museveni's leadership in Africa on arresting the

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