Cablegate: Africa Bureau Senior Advisor On Conflict Resolution

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1. Summary: August 15 to 17 Senior Advisor on Conflict Resolution,
Timothy Shortley, traveled to northern Uganda to meet with local
leaders and affected populations. The primary objectives of the
trip were to discuss the peace process in Juba, including community
consultations on agenda item three; how the US can help ensure a
successful conclusion to the peace process, and a dignified return
of the displaced population (IDPs); and support reconciliation and
recovery. The Senior Advisor met with IDPs and returnees in
Omiyanima sub-county, Kitgum District, district officials in Gulu
and Kitgum, NGOs, UN agencies, members of the Acholi Religious
Leaders Peace Initiative, and the European Commission Humanitarian
Office (ECHO). The visit was well received. There is positive
momentum around the peace process and IDP returns; however, gaps
remain in recovery assistance that if unaddressed could hamper IDP
returns and reconciliation. End Summary.

Local leaders say "help us keep our eye on the ball" and "no

2. The Senior Advisor met with local district chairmen (the group
consists of mostly elected opposition party) and Resident District
Commissioners (RDC) (central Government appointees) in Kitgum and
Gulu districts to discuss the Peace process in Juba, community
consultations, and how the US could help. Local officials
consistently requested US support in keeping both the Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GOU) to the
agenda and moving forward, as well as a close eye on Khartoum.
There is fear that the longer the Juba talks go on the greater the
risk of support of the LRA by Khartoum. Further, there was wide
concern that the northern Ugandan diaspora representing the LRA at
the Juba talks is not representative of the Acholi people (nor other
northern ethnic groups), and that they are pursuing their own
political agenda potentially jeopardizing the peace process.

3. On the issue of justice District officials said that traditional
justice "Mato Oput" is inappropriate for senior leaders who
committed atrocities. The RDCs also felt the senior leaders to
stand trial should include the four International Criminal Court
(ICC) Indictees and commanders that led massacres at Lamore in
January 1997, Muchwini in June 2002, Atiak in 2005, Namokora 2003,
Pader pots 2003, Balene in 2004 bringing the total to ten. They
also said it is unlikely any of the senior to mid-level LRA will be
comfortable returning to Acholiland, and will likely relocate in
other parts of Uganda. The Gulu RDC indicated that the ten most
wanted have already decided that they will not return to Uganda, and
that they would agree to:

-- Exile in a non-Western country, (e.g. Central African Republic
(CAR)), with a judicial process in Uganda that provides reasonable
sentences in abstentia.

-- A jury could be formed made up of traditional Chiefs and other
northern representation to ensure an appropriate sentence, including
1. Compensation (i.e. implementation of the Peace, Recovery and
Development Plan (PRDP)), 2. Never assume a leadership position, and
3. Banned from Acholiland.

The Vice Chairman of Gulu District identified "guarantor" of the
implementation of the Juba Peace agreement and the Government PRDP
as a helpful role for the US to play. Other priorities emphasized
by the District Chairmen included: security sector reform and
support for local governance, empowerment and capacity building,
provision of vital services and repair of infrastructure in return
areas; and, support to economic growth (including funds to expand
trade with South Sudan).

Acholi Religious Leaders say "Give Reconciliation a Chance"

4. Representatives of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
(ARLPI) stressed the need to diffuse or mitigate future conflict by
appropriately addressing grievances of the Acholi and other northern
populations. "We must seek justice that will give reconciliation a
chance," they told the Senior Advisor. To reach this goal the Juba
peace process must incorporate use of local traditional justice
systems as well as the legal system to achieve accountability and
reconciliation. Further, to prevent future conflict it is necessary
to add truth telling--including GOU and UPDF--commemorative
memorials and national reconciliation events. ARLPI representatives
feel strongly that some LRA commanders should be invited to
participate in the community consultations on accountability and
reconciliation, agenda item three. [Note: This point was also made
by other local leaders. End note.] And they hold similar views to
other local leaders in Gulu and Kitgum that the Diaspora

KAMPALA 00001360 002 OF 002

representation at the Juba talks is not representational of northern

With or Without a Final Resolution Significant Population Movement
is Expected

5. The Senior Advisor heard from NGOs and UN Agencies in Kitgum and
Gulu Districts and ECHO that people are monitoring the peace process
and waiting to hear new developments before fully abandoning the
camps. In addition to a final resolution in Juba, the most critical
needs now are water, health, education and roads in return areas;
need for life saving humanitarian relief is narrowing. All night
commuter facilities are closed in Kitgum. [Note: A few remain open
in Gulu to provide social services to youth. The facilities no
longer host children fearing abduction by the LRA. End note.] Lack
of grass for thatching roofs is an immediate impediment to return.
However, grass will be widely available in November and December and
significant movement is expected. Some IDPs will move to transit
sites closer to home, while others will move all the way home. In
both scenarios, the lack of basic services in return areas requires
IDPs to split families or choose interim locations that allow access
to goods and services that continue to be available in camps/trading
centers. Services must move with the population, but this is a
daunting task with over 380 new sites across Acholiland.

6. Beyond the provision of goods and services UN OCHA emphasized
that significant efforts must be focused on building government
capacity and local government ownership of the impending challenges.
Creating economic opportunities and ensuring availability of basic
infrastructure is critical to long term conflict resolution. To
work, relief and recovery assistance must be coupled with a viable
political solution to the conflict.

The People Welcome the Return of LRA but Request Assistance

7. August 17 the Senior Advisor traveled to Omiyanima sub-county in
Kitgum District to meet with war affected populations beginning the
process of returning home. Two sites were visited, Kalele village,
a site where IDPs have returned directly to their place of origin,
and Labowomor, a spontaneous transit site. Discussions with the
IDPs and returnees confirmed points made by NGOs and UN Agencies
both in regards to increasingly significant population movement in
November and need for services in return areas. The population
spoke positively about reintegrating LRA combatants in the name of
Peace. However, they requested significant psychosocial
interventions prior to the return of ex-combatants and abductees,
including transit through reception centers, counseling, and
vocational training. [Comment: Well over half of the returnees
spoken to in Kalele said they had a child abducted into the LRA.
Some have still not returned. Almost all had lost a family member
in the conflict.]

Conclusion and Recommendations:

8. The US Mission has extended development programs into the north
and leveraged emergency funds to start addressing immediate
recovery, especially in water infrastructure in return areas, and to
jump start agriculture. Three hundred eighty new sites and
escalating population returns offer the beginning of a long
reconciliation process. However, this positive momentum created by
returns could be quickly negated by the overwhelming need for
services in return areas. Gaps remain uncovered in water, health,
education, and economic growth. District officials pleaded for US
help in achieving local government capacity to deliver services.
Similarly, US support for security sector reform--from policing to
re-starting judicial systems--was requested. The Senior Advisor's
visit was well received and helped meet the local thirst for
information on US policy and engagement.


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