Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (July 15-28, 2007)

DE RUEHKM #1224/01 2080515
R 270515Z JUL 07






E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The following Northern Uganda Notes provides
information on the situation on the ground and USG activities aimed
at meeting Mission's 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. (SBU) The Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army
(LRA) want to extend the one month recess to provide more time for
consultations with stakeholders. The LRA may request an additional
month to undertake consultations. It has been waiting for Riek
Machar, the southern Sudanese mediator, to approve its budget for
consultations. The GOU also would like additional time, but is wary
of too long of a delay.

3. (SBU) The Uganda Human Rights Commission Commissioner Veronica
Bichertero met with Vincent Otti on June 22 at Rikwangba to discuss
the issue of women and children. For the first time, Otti appeared
to accept that there were civilian women and children with the LRA.
He agreed to allow women and children to attend a UNICEF site by day
to receive medical, psycho-social, and recreational services, but
not schooling. The written agreement would go into effect with the
signing of a peace deal. Otti had previously stated that the women
and children with the LRA were "their people."

4. (SBU) The Government of Norway is establishing a video
teleconferencing link for the LRA between Juba and Garamba National
Park. This will facilitate more direct involvement of the LRA
leadership in the talks.

5. (SBU) USG Activities: The agreement between the Government and
the LRA sets out the principles for holding accountable those
responsible for committing war crimes, and for achieving
reconciliation. The GOU and the LRA plan to undertake consultations
with stakeholders and legal experts on how to implement the
agreement. The GOU has asked development partners to assist with
this process while the LRA has submitted a proposal to the Riek
Machar. USAID, in partnership with the Netherlands, Norway and
Sweden, has offered to provide support to the GOU to undertake its
part of the accountability and reconciliation consultations.

6. (SBU) The GOU's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Amnesty
Commission are planning four consultation conferences in Northern
Uganda in Gulu, Adjumani, Lira, and Soroti. Consultations in the
region are meant for hearing the "voices of the people" - these
include district and local leaders, women, youth, children and other
victims in the LRA affected districts. There will be a meeting in
Kampala for consulting the formal justice system. The consultations
are planned for early to mid-August and will also involve civil
society organizations that have researched transitional justice
concepts in the context of northern Uganda.

7. (SBU) P/E Chief met with Matthew Brubacher, Associate Situation
Analyst with the International Criminal Court on July 19. Over the
past two years, Brubacher traveled frequently to northern Uganda,
Sudan, and Congo to assess the ground situation. He is in Uganda to
participate in sensitization meetings with the public on ICC
processes, the warrants for the LRA leadership, and international
standards of justice. The ICC office in Kampala has 15 full-time
staff. Brubacher said that the available evidence to the ICC
indicates that the LRA leadership is using the peace process to
regroup, rearm, resupply, and rebrand its image. Nonetheless, the
ICC would continue to urge the Government and local leaders to
ensure that the accountability and reconciliation mechanism contain
adequate justice for the victims of the conflict.

8. (SBU) P/E Chief and Economic/Commercial Officer met with
Uganda's High Commissioner to The Hague, Miriam Blaack on July 24.
She is participating in discussions among Government officials on
the potential outcomes of the peace talks. The Government is
concerned that the LRA may sign a peace deal it never intends to
honor. Nonetheless, the GOU is committed to the peace process and
is exploring ways in which to encourage the LRA to negotiate
seriously on the accountability and reconciliation mechanisms.

9. (SBU) P/E Chief and USAID Peace Support Advisor met with Adam
O'Brien from the International Crisis Group on July 25. O'Brien is

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preparing the ICG's next update on northern Uganda, which will be
published in late August. O'Brien said that from ICG's perspective,
the LRA delegation's demands at the peace negotiations do not match
the security interests of LRA leaders Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, and
the other two ICC indictees. In his view, the regional dimensions
of the LRA issue need to be addressed, i.e. Khartoum's alleged
support for the LRA and Congo's inaction against the LRA. He
concluded that the LRA is using the talks to re-invent itself and to
be available to destabilize southern Sudan, which has upcoming
elections in 2009 and the referendum in 2011.

10. (SBU) P/E Chief and USAID Peace Support Advisor met with Santa
Okot, a former Member of Parliament from Lango, who is now a member
of the LRA negotiating team on July 25. Okot confirmed that Otti
was allowing women and children to receive medical attention. She
received permission from Otti to organize the women and children in
the camp into groups with designated group leaders. Okot said that
some of these women leaders will attend the consultations at
Rikwangba. There, other Ugandan women and local government leaders
could have access to them. Okot provided a copy of the LRA
consultation proposal, which calls for 500 delegates to go to
Rikwangba for USD 2.1 million, subsequently revised to USD 1.8
million. The LRA request is based on the need for facilities to be
built to host large numbers of people. The first stage of the LRA
consultations is direct discussions between Kony and the northern
Ugandans assembled. The second part will be for experts to assist
the LRA in writing the implementing protocol for Agenda Item 2:
Comprehensive Solutions and for Agenda Item 3: Accountability and
Reconciliation Mechanisms.

11. (SBU) According to Okot, LRA leaders Kony and Otti took the
U.S. press statement in February as a sign of U.S. interest in the
talks. Kony and Otti thought that the U.S. was silent on the peace
process because they had heard that President Bush was told by
President Museveni that the "LRA was not serious." Okot said that
the LRA leadership is listening to what the U.S. says. Silence is
easily manipulated by others, according to Okot. She also said that
Kony would want to sign the final peace deal in Gulu, northern
Uganda, but will need security guarantees if he comes to Uganda. He
fears that the GOU will hand him over to the ICC like Nigeria handed
over Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. P/E
Chief clarified the circumstances of Taylor's hand-over. Okot said
that the LRA believes a final agreement would not be ready before
July 2008.

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12. (SBU) Efforts to improve the coordination of humanitarian
assistance within Uganda are moving forward. Theophane Nikyema,
United Nations Development Program Resident Representative, has been
named the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator. To further strengthen the
coordination, U.N. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, John
Holmes, created a new Senior Adviser position to help support,
prioritize humanitarian aid, enhance system-wide coherence, and aid
effectiveness through strategic and operational guidance of
humanitarian and early recovery programming. The Senior Adviser
will work closely with the head of OCHA, and receive support from
the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities
(UNOCHA) to carry out these responsibilities.

13. (SBU) UNDP appointed a new Early Recovery Officer in response
to heavy criticism over lack of leadership and response in the
sector. In an interesting first move, UNDP offered to fill the gap
in Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Currently, UNICEF is the lead for
GBV, but would like to scale back its sector and coordination
responsibilities to a few core areas. The change will require
agreement by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and UN
Country Team; it is not imminent.

14. (SBU) Recruitment and retention of teachers and health workers
in return areas continues to be a challenge for early recovery.
Absenteeism at schools and functioning health posts in return areas
is high. Increased supervision and mentoring support of staff is
needed, and performance or hardship incentives could also be
considered to help meet this growing gap.

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15. (U) Michael Gerson's opinion piece in the Washington Post

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entitled "The Price of Peace in Uganda" appeared on July 25. Gerson
stated that "some in Congress are calling for the appointment of an
American Special Envoy to push for a final agreement. Such
appointments have been useful in other cases. Here, African
mediators from Mozambique, southern Sudan, and the African Union
want to take the lead - and they have more urgent needs than getting
an envoy." Gerson argues that a peace settlement requires resourses
to assist demobilized ex-combatants and abductees. He also stated
that military pressure must continue because "the more secure and
confident the LRA becomes, the less likely it is to disband."
Gerson advocates for more action by MONUC against the LRA and the
sharing of intelligence between the U.S. and MONUC. He also states
that the treatment for Kony might become an obstacle to a peace
agreement. Gerson states that many of Kony's victims "seem to
prefer peace to a grand reckoning" for the LRA leader.

16. (U) USG Activities: Three production members from "Dan Rather
Reports," a news program hosted by Dan Rather on HDNetwork, arrived
in Uganda on July 22 and are filming at Camp Kasenyi July 23-27.
The purpose of filming is to cover/interview U.S. service members
training of Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers in
antiterrorism tactics, techniques and procedures. This coverage has
been approved by CJTF-HOA commanders, U.S. Embassy in Kampala
officials, Ugandan military, and U.S. European Command (UECOM)
public affairs.

17. (U) The first journalism training workshop organized by
Internews Network for Ugandan journalists is taking place July 23-29
in Gulu. Fourteen Ugandan journalists from Gulu, Koboko, Kitgum,
Apac, Lira, and Kampala are participating in the training. The
HALL TO THE COMMUNITY." The training program is the first one of a
series taking place with USAID funding.

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