Cablegate: Northern Uganda Notes (September 1-30, 2008)

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E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (U) Summary: The following Northern Uganda Notes provide
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) Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony again
failed to show up for a September 6 meeting in Rikwangba to resume
peace talks. It was the fifth attempt to draw Kony out of the bush
for talks since April. Kony reportedly phoned Acholi Paramount
Chief Rwot Acana II on September 11 to explain his intentions.
Acana said that Kony apologized for the delay in signing Final Peace
Agreement (FPA), but insisted that the ICC indictments were to
blame. UN Special Envoy for LRA-Affected Areas Joachim Chissano
traveled to Juba on September 6 in anticipation of traveling with
the LRA delegation to Rikwangba.

3. (SBU) Northern traditional and religious leaders traveled to
Juba on September 17. The delegation was originally scheduled to
travel on to Rikwangba, but Kony's failure to show on September 6
caused the trip's cancellation. In Juba, leaders met with
Government of Southern Sudan mediator Riek Machar to discuss FPA
challenges. Machar and the northern leaders, despite Kony's
repeated failure to show, noted that they thought it was important
for an LRA-affected conflict area delegation, led by Acana and
accompanied by the LRA delegation, to meet with Kony.

4. (SBU) On September 17, six former LRA commanders, who defected
between October and December 2007, returned to Gulu. The
ex-commanders include Opio Makasi, Vincent Okema, Raphael Jalobo,
George Okech, Sunday Kidega, and Alex Ojok. Traditional leaders and
the Amnesty Commission held a welcoming ceremony for the defectors
at Acana's palace on September 23. The traditional ceremony
signified the ex-combatants' return to the Acholi community and
represented the first stage of the Mato Oput cleansing ceremony.
USAID funded the ceremony through the IOM. The UNDP also provided

5. (SBU) Mercy Corps held a three-day, USAID-funded Peace Forum in
the Pader District September 25-27. Parish-level Peace Committees,
established and trained by Mercy Corps, joined key decision-makers
to build the capacity of local residents to participate in community
peace and reconciliation activities. USAID Deputy Director, during
her keynote address, underscored USG efforts to support conflict
mitigation and peace-building in the north. The Pader Peace Forum
was the largest event of its kind to be held in the relatively new
Pader District and was well-attended by Ministers, Members of
Parliament, central and local government officials, and members of
the Ugandan press.

6. (SBU) USG Activities: The Ambassador, DCM, and P/E Chief
attended UN-Special Envoy Chissano's debriefings on the status of
the LRA peace process. The DCM and USAID Deputy Mission Director
discussed the future of the peace process and implementation of the
Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan (PRDP) with local government
leaders and non-governmental organizations during a September 22-25
visit to Kitgum District.

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7. (SBU) Oxfam released its "From Emergency to Recovery: Rescuing
Northern Uganda's Transition" report on September 4. The report
indicated that despite the absence of an FPA, improved security in
the north had allowed over 900,000 IDPs to return home. Oxfam
noted, however, that recovery actors and services were not keeping
up with the pace of return on the ground. The report suggested that
many IDPs were also worried about the future of an FPA, and noted
that the most vulnerable camp residents--widows, orphans, elderly
people, the disabled and the sick--are being left behind in the
camps, and that the dismantling of camp governing structures had
left a leadership vacuum. Oxfam called on the UN to articulate a
transition strategy, recommended that the GOU publicize information
on its transition programs, and urged the international community to

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support the PRDP.

8. (U) USG Activities: CJTF-HOA launched a Veterinary Civic Action
Project (VETCAP) on September 22 in Gulu district. The VETCAP is
expected to treat and inoculate up to 33,000 livestock. As part of
the VETCAP program, CJTF-HOA specialists will work with Ugandan
veterinarians, veterinary students, and district health and
agricultural officials to provide care to livestock in and around
the Gulu and Amuru Districts. On September 22, the DCM dedicated a
CTJF-HOA-funded library and three buildings at the Kitgum District
Referral Hospital.

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9. (U) According to MONUC, ten LRA rebels ambushed and kidnapped a
group of 16 Congolese villagers on their way to a market along the
Dungu/Firaz/Isoro Road on September 4-5. The villagers were from
Dimba. LRA rebels reportedly raped the women, killed two villagers,
and wounded three others. Angry villagers reportedly killed two LRA
rebels in the scuffle. The Congolese military was informed of the

10. (SBU) There were several additional reports of LRA attacks and
abductions in Kiliwa, Duru, and Dungu, DRC, between September 17 and
20. An estimated ninety school children were reportedly abducted
from the Duru Institute and Kiliwa Primary School and a local chief
and his son were killed. Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs
Ruhakana Rugunda said that eight Congolese were killed in the
attacks. Catholic missionaries report that the LRA looted, abducted
children, and burned down buildings. MONUC confirmed the attacks
and both MONUC and the Congolese military reportedly began deploying
in the area. Public demonstrations in Dungu have put pressure on
the Government of DRC to take action against the LRA. UPDF
Spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda said that the UPDF was prepared to
defend the border area from an LRA incursion.

11. (U) On September 18, LRA rebels reportedly killed two Sudanese
civilians when they attacked a Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army
(SPLA) barrack at Sakure. Col. Joseph Ngere, a senior official in
southern Sudan's Equatoria State Government, told BBC that the LRA
rebels carried out several attacks after killing an unspecified
number of Congolese civilians. He reported that the rebels also
burned houses among other abuses. The Central African Republic
(CAR) government reportedly announced its willingness to join the
regional military solution to end the LRA insurgency in the region.
According to press reports, Sudan and the DRC have committed
themselves to deal with the LRA militarily if the rebels do not sign
the FPA.

12. (U) On September 9, Harris Woboya, Coordinator of the Mine
Action Program, reported that Lira District is free of unexploded
ordnance following a five-month collection exercise. Woboya said
the team continues to search for unexploded ordnance in Kitgum,
Amuru, Pader, Gulu and Kasese Districts.

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13. (U) The September 15 edition of the government-owned daily "The
New Vision" featured an op-ed written by UPDF spokesperson Paddy
Ankunda entitled "Juba Peace Talks Still on Despite Kony's
Elusiveness." Ankunda was among the international observers who
traveled to Juba on September 6 expecting to witness the peace
agreement signing. President Chissano had expected to fly to Juba,
move to Rikwangba on the same day, sign the agreement and return to
Juba with the "good news." On arrival in Juba, the UN team was told
that Kony had sent two of his senior officers the day before, and
that they had picked up drugs the rebels had asked for and departed.
Ankunda writes that he immediately knew that they had been duped.
From that point on, Kony's phones were either off or not answered.
President Chissano was so disappointed that he announced that this
was the last time he would try to meet Kony. According to Major
Ankunda, reports indicate that the rebels have been abducting,
cultivating, training and establishing contacts.

14. (U) Ankunda also commented that if it is true that the LRA were
attacked by the DRC forces and MONUC, it was long overdue. Under
the Tripartite Plus mechanism, the DRC and MONUC should have
attacked the LRA by June. The UPDF and the SPLA, under the

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agreement, were supposed to support the operation with intelligence
information. He added that because Kony has refused to sign the
agreement, the GOU has nothing to show the ICC and the UNSC to
support suspension of the arrest warrants. He added, however, that
the door for peace talks will remain open and that the GOU is
willing to support anyone who tries to get Kony to sign the FPA.

15. (U) Resolve Uganda issued a memo to U.S. Policymakers entitled
"Crucial Window of Opportunity Must Not Be Missed" dated September
2008. The recommendations for the U.S. Congress included: "passage
of legislation to ensure U.S. support for the comprehensive
reconstruction of the north, authorization of USD 35 million over
the next five years, and to ensure the U.S. Administration leads
multilateral efforts to rebuild northern Uganda and address the
continued LRA threat." Resolve Uganda recommended that "the U.S.
Administration hold the Government of Uganda accountable for its
responsibilities to coordinate the recovery process and bring
northern Uganda to a development level equal to the rest of the
country; convene a conference of major donors in Uganda to ensure
funding commitments are secured for a sustained recovery process;
appoint a full-time diplomat to work with the U.N. and other
regional governments to advance dialogue with the LRA leaders,
defections of LRA members, protection of civilians, and a viable
strategy to arrest rebel leader Joseph Kony, and commence an
inter-agency process to assess prospects and develop a strategy for
apprehending LRA leader Joseph Kony, in coordination with regional
governments and U.N. forces."

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