Uganda: Rustlers and Assault Rifles Don't Mix


May 9, 2007: Peace negotiators have worked out how the remaining LRA fighters will surrender themselves and their weapons. LRA fighters in south Sudan have been given two corridors to move through, to Uganda and assembly areas. The estimated 800 LRA fighters will have seven days to reach the assembly areas and surrender. May 8, 2007: Uganda has established an Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) to deal with tribal cattle raids. The unit operates as a guard force in the Karamoja area and along the border of south Sudan, with the specific mission of keeping Lango-Sudan tribesmen from launching cattle raids into Uganda. So far around 1300 ASTU members have been recruited, most of them from districts in the area. Since the tribesmen got access to cheap AK-47s, the cattle raids, which are an ancient tradition, have gotten a lot bloodier. The army confiscated over 46,000 "illegal weapons" in the Karamoja region in the last year. The weapons confiscation program has been going for three years. Most of the weapons were seized in operations designed to stop or control cattle raiders in the region. The army found several weapons dumps during its "cordon and search" operations in the Karamoja border region. You have to wonder if some of the cattle raiders are also engaged in weapons smuggling.

May 2, 2007: The LRA and the government signed "the second phase" of a peace agreement as part of the continuing peace process. This "Agreement on Comprehensive Solutions," will be part of an eventual "final settlement." The new agreement addresses land distribution and resettlement issues, including the right of refugees to return to their homes in northern Uganda. Interestingly enough, this interim agreement also said that "LRA leaders, combatants, and personnel" should be provided with protection "during the transition from conflict to peace." The LRA claims that it is being harassed by Ugandan military forces in south Sudan. The language, however, is vague enough to ask this question: does it include protection of LRA leaders from International Criminal Court warrants? Senior LRA leaders have been indicted for war crimes.


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