Uganda: First, Let's Expel All The Lawyers


August 19, 2009: The government is rejecting claims that the Army (UPDF) committed "atrocities and genocide" in north Uganda during its war with the LRA. These claims have been made by human rights NGOs in the past. However, a former UN under-secretary is also making the charges that evidence exists that the military committed significant human rights abuses during the long war against the LRA. The government takes these claims seriously, for many reasons. One is that the peace process in north Uganda remains tentative and perilous. The Acholi (a northern tribe) do not trust the government. A second reason is that several senior LRA commanders, including senior commander Joseph Kony, have been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The government initially wanted those charges made. Subsequently, they have proved to be something of a problem during negotiations with the LRA since the senior LRA leaders face jail if they surrender. If the LRA can be charged, perhaps senior government leaders can be as well. The ICC sword may cut both ways.

August 15, 2009: A senior LRA peace negotiator, David Matsanga, operating out of Nairobi, Kenya, has resigned. Matsanga did this because he may run for president of Uganda in 2011. The reason he gave for his resignation is interesting. The LRA no longer operates from northern Uganda. It is based in east Congo and perhaps the Central African Republic. It also has (likely) some camps in south Sudan. Matsanga says those areas are "outside his mandate" as a peace talks representative.

August 11, 2009: Kenya said it does not plan to disarm tribes living along its "sensitive" borders with Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Uganda has been pressuring Kenya to help disarm tribesmen conducting cattle raids along the border. The Kenyan government claims its tribes are "peaceful," especially when compared to Uganda's Karamojong who are "killing themselves" with raids and banditry. Kenya would consider large-scale tribal disarmament initiatives if both Sudan and Ethiopia cooperated. Kenya is concerned that if it takes light automatic weapons away from tribes like the Turkana, traditional enemies across the border, like the Karamojong, will attack them. This is actually very similar to what Uganda said last month. Uganda acknowledged that efforts to stop illegal weapons trafficking in the Karamoja region are not going to work if the tribes cannot protect their communities. Cattle raiding has increased as food shortages have increased throughout the region due to prolonged drought. The situation is one of constant, low-grade tribal war that reaches across international boundaries. Ugandan military and police units have begun protecting some tribal livestock in "guarded kraals" in barrack areas. The army, however, does not want this job since husbanding livestock is time consuming and isn't a military mission.

 July 31, 2009: The Ugandan Army engaged in a heavy firefight with Jie tribe warriors in Karamoja Sub-region (Moroto district). The Jie tribesmen had attacked a location near the town of Lolelia in an attempt to steal cattle. Six tribesmen were killed in the firefight.

July 28, 2009: The government said that security units had deployed near the Rwanda-Uganda border in order to stop attacks on Rwandan refugees by Ugandans. The trouble began in April. Rwandan refugees claim that 70 refugees have been killed (some hacked to death with machetes) since April. Ugandan police have verified the claim. Many of the Rwandans are Tutsi and Hutu who escaped during the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and do not want to return home. The government says the trouble began in a dispute over land rights with native Ugandans.

July 27, 2009: The UN reported an "influx" of some  1900 Congolese refugees into south Sudan (from Congo). The refugees were fleeing attacks on their villages by Ugandan rebel LRA bands operating in the Congo.




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