Cablegate: Senator Feingold Discusses Northern Ugandan Issues

DE RUEHKM #1419/01 2500948
R 070948Z SEP 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Senator Russell Feingold met with a wide range of
government officials, local and religious leaders, military
officers, internally-displaced persons, UN officials and
international donors to discuss the current situation in northern
Uganda during his visit from August 26 to 30. Feingold traveled to
Gulu and observed the improved security situation in northern
Uganda. His visit coincided with nationwide consultations to
develop the mechanism for justice, accountability, and
reconciliation. End Summary.

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2. (SBU) On August 27, Senator Feingold met with Minister of
Defense Crispus Kiyonga and Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala. Feingold
described the level of military cooperation between the United
States and Uganda as excellent. He asked Kiyonga about the U.S.
role in the region. Kiyonga said that Uganda was concerned that the
Khartoum Government was re-supplying the Lord's Resistance Army
(LRA). He stated that the U.S. helped in the past by discussing
supply of the LRA with Khartoum. Kiyonga said that the U.S. could
be tougher with Khartoum on the issue again. Lt. Gen. Wamala
explained that the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) was unable
to apprehend the LRA leaders because they received protection from
Khartoum which assisted their movement into Garamba National Park to
avoid UPDF deployment in southern Sudan. Kiyonga also told Feingold
that the LRA should not be removed from the Terrorist Exclusion List
until it demonstrated results in the form of a signed peace
agreement. Once the LRA stops re-arming and disarms, then various
carrots should be considered such as the LRA's removal from
terrorism lists and the dropping of the International Criminal Court
warrants. Kiyonga told Feingold that if the talks fail, the LRA
should "attract the wrath of the ICC." He added that there was a
"three state" arrangement for dealing with the LRA should Kony fail
to cooperate.

3. (SBU) Feingold asked about allegations that the conduct of UPDF
soldiers in internally-displaced persons camps, or in restricting
movement. Feingold was told that there may be "some degree" of
abuses and Lt. Gen. Wamala said that the Ministry of Defense would
act on any specific information about abuse of civilians. He
acknowledged that the conditions in IDP camps resulted in many
civilian deaths. Wamala said that the UPDF was receiving training
and lectures on human rights from international and domestic
organizations. The UPDF's taking of "immediate action" against
soldiers accused of human rights allegations was now being
challenged in courts for being too harsh. He also explained that
some 40,000 auxiliary forces, known as local defense units (LDU),
had been recruited to serve alongside the UPDF to provide security.
Ten thousand LDU members were being kept mobilized until the Juba
Peace Talks play out. The rest of these forces were being recruited
into the police or demobilized. Kiyonga told Senator Feingold that
the military was stepping back from handling law enforcement.
However, with the return of IDPs to or near their homes, the demand
for police continues to expand. Police units were being
reestablished, judges were "circuit-riding" to relieve the massive
backlog of cases in the north, and the Ministry of Justice was
training more magistrates.

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4. (SBU) Minister of State for International Relations, Henry
Okello Oryem, Deputy Leader of the GOU negotiating team and a
northerner from Kitgum said that the peace process had surpassed
Uganda's expectations. The LRA has left northern Uganda and there
have been no LRA attacks. The LDUs have become redundant, night
commuter centers are being closed, and IDPs are returning to or near
their homes in Lira, Teso, and eastern Kitgum. Oryem described the
situation as one of physical peace, but not peace of mind or heart.
Northerners want the reassurance of a signed peace agreement.
Returnees were facing challenges such as the lack of services in
return areas and the inability of camp populations to till land due
to a lack of experience.

5. (SBU) The three categories of LRA members require different
accountability. Oryem said that for the GOU, a local reconciliation
mechanism, such as mato oput, was not enough for the LRA leaders.
The GOU advocates that Kony, Otti, and the other indictees be tried
under Ugandan law and undergo some form of local reconciliation. He
claimed that Kony and Otti realized that they must face a national
prosecution in order to avoid the ICC. The problem was that Kony
and Otti have not determined the modalities or guarantees that they
would need to turn themselves over to the GOU. Non-indicted
commanders and fighters would likely be subjected to local

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reconciliation mechanisms. Oryem said that it would be unfair to
try the women and children who were abducted and forced to fight.

6. (SBU) Oryem told Feingold the GOU has let the LRA lead the
process to ensure that it is satisfied, even though it means
tolerating discussion of absurd issues. The GOU has largely
acquiesced to the LRA but was tough on issues such as power-sharing
because the LRA does not represent the people of northern Uganda.
For example, the GOU agreed to restock northern Uganda's decimated
livestock population, investigate allegations against the UPDF, and
include issues of human rights and good governance under the
Comprehensive Solutions part of the agreement. Both the LRA and the
GOU will produce reports summarizing the consultations regarding
accountability and present them when the talks resume in October.

7. (SBU) Senator Feingold asked how the Government of Southern
Sudan mediator and U.N. Special Envoy Chissano were performing.
Oryem said that Chissano's influence was positive because he was
balanced and brought relevant experience to bear to overcome LRA
suspicions about the process. Initially, the GOU was concerned
about GOSS Vice President Riek Machar's agenda and focus. Machar is
not impartial but they have a big stake in the peace process because
of the LRA atrocities in southern Sudan.

8. (SBU) Uganda continues a dialogue with the Democratic Republic
of Congo regarding the continued presence of the LRA at Garamba
National Park. Oryem also told Feingold that the DRC would not want
the UPDF to go into Garamba Park to catch LRA. Oryem stated that
President Kabila was misinformed and needed to discuss the issue
outside of Kinshasa. President Museveni would be meeting Kabila in
Tanzania on the LRA and border issues. (Note: The meeting is
scheduled for September 7, in Arusha.)

9. (SBU) When asked by Senator Feingold about the U.S. role, Oryem
replied that the GOU welcomed U.S. interventions that were
low-profile. Uganda fears a more public U.S. role because it would
overshadow the talks and "incense" Khartoum and the Arab League.
Oryem stated that funding for parts of the process, intelligence
sharing, and logistical assistance, were areas where the U.S. could
play a helpful role. Oryem noted that the US could be a "looming
presence" and that while this should be an African solution it
should have strong "international support." Oryem added that
continued pressure on the LRA would be useful and that the GOU does
not want the ICC warrants lifted until a final peace deal was
concluded and implemented.

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10. (SBU) Senator Feingold traveled to Gulu and met with local
elected, traditional, and religious leaders, as well as
internally-displaced person (IDPs) at Ongako camp. He first held a
roundtable discussion with Macmot Kitara, the Deputy Local District
Chairman, Walter Ochora, the Resident District Commissioner, a
representative of Paramount Chief Rwot Acana, and Karima Obina and
Reverend Godfrey Luwom of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace
Initiative. The participants welcomed increased U.S. engagement in
northern Uganda, which they felt was important to keeping the
negotiating parties on track. They raised concerns about the LRA's
delaying tactics and the composition of the LRA's diaspora-based
delegation at Juba. The lack of women representatives at the
negotiations was another concern. The group noted that attention
needs to be paid to both Khartoum and Congo, which have influence
over the situation.

11. (SBU) The local leaders agreed that the ICC indictments added a
new level of seriousness to the peace process, a view not shared by
the IDPs. The IDPs expressed concerns that the ICC could still be
an impediment to the peace process. Macmot pointed out that the ICC
only has jurisdiction over crimes committed since 2000 and would not
cover massacres, such as that at Atiak. There was initial
enthusiasm for the ICC because northerners thought the ICC would
come to Uganda and apprehend the LRA leaders. When this did not
happen, skeptism set in that the ICC could not resolve the problem
on its own. Local leaders were supportive of amnesty for the LRA as
long as it did not promote impunity. Most of the northerners
believed that a reconciliation process needed to be national in
nature. Senator Feingold encouraged participants to view the ICC as
being effective as long as it did not prevent the successful
conclusion of the peace process. The local leaders told Feingold
that the current peace process has integrity and that the
facilitators and observers were important factors in the

12. (SBU) The IDPs requested a reconstruction package similar to
the one implemented in southern Sudan after the Comprehensive Peace

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Agreement was signed in 2005. Other requests included supporting
IDPs and returning ex-combatants at an equitable level. There was
fear that the ex-combatants would have access to more benefits
through formal disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation, and
re-integration processes than their victims in the IDP camps. The
local leaders and the IDPs said that reintegration and compensation
packages should go to affected communities, not individuals. The
local leaders emphasized the importance of rehabilitating
livelihoods. Specific needs identified by local leaders and IDPs
included civilian policing, roads, and health, and education
infrastructure and personnel. Local leaders felt strongly that the
GOU must take ownership of the return process and that civilian
rule, local governance structures and the rule of law in general
needed to be substantially upgraded. When Senator Feingold asked
whether the IDPs preferred the UPDF or civilian police for security,
there was unanimous support for the civilian police.

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13. (SBU) Senator Feingold met with representatives of the U.K.,
Norway, The Netherlands, Canada, and Ireland on August 29. Feingold
was interested in their views on the peace process, the ICC, and the
role the U.S. should play. The Netherlands Charge suggested that
the U.S. has a comparative advantage over European missions because
it can influence President Museveni when needed and has the ability
to collect intelligence on the ground situation. The U.K. High
Commissioner, Francois Gordon, said that those countries that signed
the Rome Statute could not make judgments on the proposed solutions
or mechanisms developed by the parties to deal with accountability.
He noted that a suspension of the warrants by the U.N. Security
Council would be a palatable option for Kony, who does not trust the
ICC, but understands the role of the UNSC. The Norwegian Ambassador
described Norway's support for the ICC, but debate within the
Norwegian ministries over peace and justice issues. The U.K.
supported keeping the LRA on the U.S. Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL)
because it keeps pressure on them to sign a peace deal. The TEL
gives the U.S. the means to go after those in the diaspora that were
supporting the LRA. The U.K. does not have an equivalent mechanism.
Norway withdrew its support for the European Union terrorist list,
which deals with money transfers and immigration issues, so that it
could have more flexibility in talking to groups like the LRA.
There is a division of labor on the LRA issues that appears to have
emerged within the international community.

14. (SBU) Later the same day, representatives from Ireland and
Canada explained the origins of the Juba Initiative Fund (JIF)and
the division of labor that has emerged between donors there. Aine
Hearns, Ireland's High Commissioner said that the JIF has been used
to pay the operational expenses of the GOSS Secretariat, and
allowances, hotels, airfares, and per diems for the LRA. The
initial fund experienced significant problems, including
mismanagement, but the donors have now engaged KPMG to handle the
finances. She also said that the JIF donors do not work directly
with the LRA but through Machar. In her view, the longer there was
no fighting, the more difficult it would be for the LRA to return to
war. Canadian consul Bryan Burton said that donor plans for the
post-agreement phase needed to be looked at more closely. National
reconciliation would be needed and was not being addressed at this
point. Aine Hearns said that the U.S. has been fully supportive and
engaged on the process. Feingold asked how the newly appointed
Senior Advisor for Conflict Areas could be utilized. Aine Hearns
stated that currently, coordination by donors in Kampala was
excellent and that sharing of information and labor have become
critical in order to not send any mixed messages to the parties.
She stressed the importance of continued, close coordination.

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15. (SBU) Throughout his visit, Senator Feingold emphasized the
U.S. Government's commitment to the peace process and reconstruction
of northern Uganda. He saw firsthand the challenges ahead: the
deployment of civilian police to replace the military; the wide
range of opinions on justice, accountability, and reconciliation;
and the infrastructural and resource needs for returning
populations. Reporting on his meeting with President Museveni
follows in septel.

16. (U) Senator Feingold cleared this message.

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