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

DE RUEHKM #1567/01 3400509
R 050509Z DEC 08





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 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. (U) The Chief Mediator of the Juba Peace Process, Government of
Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, held a stakeholders'
conference in Kampala on November 5 aimed at creating a roadmap for
achieving final signatures and implementation of the Final Peace
Agreement between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the
Government of Uganda (GOU). UN Special Envoy for LRA-Affected
Areas, Joachim Chissano, the parties, donors, and non-governmental
organizations participated. The stakeholders demanded that the LRA
stop attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and sign the
FPA without conditions by November 30. In addition, the
stakeholders urged Chissano to continue his role and donors to
continue support for the peace process.

3. (U) The conference communique acknowledged that the LRA had not
assembled, that its attacks in the DRC had caused great suffering,
that non-implementation of the peace agreement was putting Great
Lakes security at risk, and that Chissano's mandate was coming to an
end on December 31. Stakeholders' urged:

-- The LRA to stop attacks and to unconditionally sign the FPA
before November 30, assemble, and immediately release the children
held captive;

-- All parties, the Chief Mediator, and Special Envoy to make the
necessary arrangements for Kony to sign the agreement;

-- The continuation of Chissano's role in working to resolve the
LRA conflict; and

-- The international community to continue support for FPA

4. (SBU) In a much-anticipated response to the conference, Machar
and Chissano arranged a meeting for Kony with his delegation at
Rikwangba for November 28 and 29 (reftels). Kony refused to hold
the meeting until donor-provided food was delivered, causing the
meeting to slip a day. Northern elders and religious leaders,
members of Parliament, and LRA delegation members, including David
Matsanga walked to a location some five kilometers from Rikwangba
for the meeting and spent two nights in the LRA encampment. After
being subjected to stringent security precautions, the elders met
with Kony on November 29. Reports from participants indicate that
Kony demanded that the ICC warrants be lifted. He claimed that he
had been receiving text messages telling him that he would be killed
if he returned to northern Uganda. Senior LRA officers were even
more hard-line than Kony and demanded to know what security
guarantees they would have if the agreement was signed. They
threatened three northern Ugandan leaders not present, which alarmed
the delegation. Kony made no contact with either Machar or Chissano
during the weekend. Machar held a meeting with Chissano and the
parties on December 1. The decision was made to discontinue the
Juba Peace Process, but without closing the door for Kony to sign
the FPA should he alter his behavior at some time in the future and
desire a peaceful end to the LRA conflict (ref C).

5. (U) On November 6, President Museveni reassured Machar that the
Government of Uganda (GOU) is ready to sign the FPA. Museveni said
that the government would fulfill its mandate to rehabilitate the
war-affected areas of the north. The meeting also was attended by
Chissano and Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.

6. (U) Uganda Amnesty Commission Chair Justice Peter Onega reported
that a two-year project worth $2.2 million was launched to support
former LRA combatants. He told the New Vision on November 2 that
the program will focus on child mothers, persons with disabilities,
women and child soldiers.

KAMPALA 00001567 002.2 OF 003

7. (U) On November 10, Government of South Sudan Director of
Presidential Affairs Martin Majut Yak said that his government was
considering the use of force against the LRA to push them out of
southern Sudan if Kony fails to sign the FPA. Majut Yak told a
press conference in Kampala that the GOSS will not allow Kony rebels
to use southern Sudan as a base to destabilize the region.

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8. (U) Kitgum District authorities launched the phase-out of
Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in November to further
encourage IDP returns. Eighty percent of the IDPs in Kitgum have
returned home while 20% remain, including the elderly, disabled and
children, according to district officials. From October 28-30, the
World Food Program (WFP) held a General Food Distribution (GFD)
Phase-Off and Regional Strategy Workshop in Gulu Town. Key
stakeholders, including local government, UN agencies, NGO and local
partners, utilized the findings of three recent assessments to
determine which sub-counties in Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader
districts would be phased-off of GFD. Preliminary decisions plan
for 219,000 IDPs to be phased off by January 2009. A further
573,000 IDPs will require only seasonal food aid support for an
additional three to six months. This decision will be reviewed once
the findings of the December 2008 Land Use and Crop Yield Assessment
(LUCYA) are available. It was estimated that 146,000 vulnerable
IDPs will require food assistance through the end of 2009.
District-level meetings will develop implementation plans for each
sub-county's GFD phase-off process. The district implementation
plans must include a communications strategy and sensitization

9. (U) USG Activities: USAID's Strengthening Democratic Linkages
(LINKAGES) project hosted a series of meetings between the Office of
the Prime Minister (OPM) and key Parliamentary Committees and
Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Government's Peace Recovery and
Development Plan (PRDP) for northern Uganda. OPM is leading the
PRDP effort, which brings together central government ministries,
local governments, Parliament, civil society and development
partners. The government has contributed $15 million to the PRDP as
additional funds through various line ministries.

10. (U) LINKAGES also supported district and select sub-county Local
Governments in Amolatar, Arua, Kitgum, and Pader in their annual
planning and budgeting activities through the Government's
Harmonized Participatory Development Planning (HPDP) process. This
support will help Local Governments in the conflict-affected areas
improve their planning and budgeting processes and documents,
provide opportunities for civic engagement in priority setting, and
help to re-establish lower local governments after long

11. (U) On November 13, USAID and Political/Economic Section
Officers met with OPM's new Permanent Secretary to discus PRDP
progress and USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives' programs in
the north, including the Northern Uganda Transition Initiative
program (NUTI). OTI is working with OPM to develop and implement a
PRDP communications strategy, including establishment of a website.

12. (U) On November 20, the USAID Mission Director briefed the
Greater Northern Parliamentary Association, a caucus of 102
parliamentarians from West Nile, Acholi, Lango, Karamoja, and Teso
sub-regions. The briefing helped northern parliamentarians
understand the scope and depth of USG activities in the north. The
briefing also helped the parliamentarians begin to develop a focused
legislative agenda and to become stakeholders in the PRDP.

13. (U) On 26 November, USAID hosted a reception to launch support
for the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG). The
reception also honored internationally-known Michael Newton's Uganda
visit to provide legal advice on transitional justice to the various
institutions within the Justice, Law and Order Sector. Newton was
one of the U.S. negotiators of the ICC Statute. In a meeting with
the Ambassador, Newton reported that the GOU is committed to
domesticating the ICC Statute and moving ahead with accountability
and reconciliation mechanisms.

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14. (U) On November 1, LRA rebels reportedly killed three Congolese
soldiers and abducted 36 boys and 21 girls when they attacked Dungu
in Orientale Province, eastern DRC.

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15. (U) On November 3, The New Vision ran Gulu District Chairman
Norbert Mao's weekly column under the headline, "Chissano Factor in
Juba Talks Still Vital." He wrote that LRA leader Joseph Kony had
been making contact with key players in the peace process and that
after months of silence and evasiveness, the LRA leader seemed to
have realized that Juba might be the best way out of the bush.
Reports over recent months have accused the LRA of killing and
abducting civilians both in the DRC and in South Sudan. In spite of
this, Mao wrote, there seems to be a consensus that there should be
an open door policy as far as the LRA is concerned. Mao argued that
given the peace dividend that Juba has given northern Uganda, the UN
should not disengage from the Juba Peace Process. Continued UN
engagement is also required given the impact of LRA presence and
activity in neighboring countries and it should therefore renew
Chissano's mandate.

16. (U) On November 11, The New Vision carried an op-ed by the UPDF
and Ministry of Defense spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda entitled, "How
Long Can We Wait for Kony's Signature?" He pointed out that the
Juba peace talks were the fourteenth initiative through which the
government had tried to engage the LRA and bring a peaceful end to
the conflict. These talks were different because of the fact that
the government kept the LRA involved in the process up to the
advanced stage of signing a Final Peace Agreement. In spite of
this, Major Ankunda believes that the Juba talks have not made a
difference in changing the situation in northern Uganda. He
attributed the prevailing peace in the region to the UPDF dislodging
rebels and forcing them to migrate. He also said that there is no
indication that the Juba talks have helped to encourage the
displaced to return home. He concluded that since the rebels have
continued to commit crimes in DRC, Central African Republic, and
Southern Sudan, in spite of arrest warrants issued by the ICC, they
have "learned nothing and forgotten nothing."

17. (U) On November 13, Human Rights Watch, the Enough Project,
Resolve Uganda, and the Justice and Peace Commission of Dungu/Doruma
called on the United Nations, the United States, the United Kingdom,
and governments in the region to develop and carry out an arrest
strategy for LRA leaders wanted by the ICC. The organizations
issued a press release calling on the UN Security Council to
increase the number of peacekeepers in northern DRC to help protect
civilians following renewed attacks by the LRA. John Norris,
executive director of the Enough Project, said that "unless the
world acts now to execute the ICC warrants, Joseph Kony's war on
civilians will continue and an already fragile region will be
further destabilized."

18. (U) In a November 20 Daily Monitor article, GOU Media Center
representative Pamela Ankunda wrote an op-ed "Deliberate Lies Won't
Bring Peace to the North." She noted the "great strides UPDF is
achieving against the odds put up by detractors, "an explicit
reference to a November 17 Amnesty International report accusing the
UPDF of committing human rights abuses in northern Uganda and not
providing the assistance to war victims. Ankunda wrote that the
report suggested that the $336.8 million Peace, Recovery and
Development Plan was useless and efforts made by the partners
irrelevant. She disagreed, arguing that the government had done its
part and continues to move forward.

© Scoop Media

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