Uganda: Blood On The Rocks

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March 18, 2009:  Kenya and Uganda have both promised to keep police and  troops from tiny (one acre) Migingo island in Lake Victoria. Both nations have long claimed the island, which little value (except as a place for a few fishermen to set up camp). For several years, the disputed ownership of the island has repeatedly caused diplomatic crises. Before that, the island was underwater. But a prolonged drought caused the water levels to decline, revealing the two large rocks that comprise Migingo island. The problem is that Uganda has more of Lake Victoria within its borders, but Kenya has more fishermen out there working the waters. Fish stocks in Lake Victoria are declining, which is liable to become a more contentious issue than possession of some rocky islets.

March 14, 2009: Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) peace negotiators have told South Sudanese mediators that they want to start a new round of talks in late March with the aim of reaching a final peace settlement. The talks would be held in Tanzania. The LRA spokesman specifically said that they want to find a way for LRA senior commander Joseph Kony to sign the peace deal. If it sounds like same old same old, it is. However, the LRA has lost the use of its bases in Congo’s Garamba Naitonal Park (on the Ugandan border). It may still be able to bring forces back into Uganda, but right now the LRA militiamen are a bigger threat to villages in northeastern Congo, south Sudan, and the Central African Republic. The spokesman also demanded that the International Criminal Court (ICC) drop its warrants for the arrest of LRA commanders, including Kony. The LRA has said that the warrants are “not conducive” to reaching a peace deal.

March 12, 2009: A government spokesman said that a potential “deferral” of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir should depend on whether or not Sudan actually carries out its various promises to bring peace to Darfur. This appears to be a way of floating the idea that the same deal might be offered to senior LRA commanders who are currently under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. The phrase used is interesting. “Deferment should be tied to performance” (ie, implementation of peace agreements).

March 9, 2009: The presence of many Ugandans in Iraq is making news in Uganda. At the moment several thousand Ugandans are working for private security firms in Iraq. One company acknowledges that it has hired 1,200 Ugandans and they are currently performing security services in Iraq. Hiring Ugandan guards is far less expensive than hiring an American guard. According to one report, Ugandans make $600 a month. It isn’t quite fair to compare a Ugandan guard to an experienced American contractor (who is likely to be a former US soldier) but for many jobs former Ugandan soldiers who know how to use light weapons (especially Kalashnikovs) argue they can do the job.

March 5, 2008: The government claimed that it had captured a senior LRA commander, Thomas Kwoyelo. The statement identified Kwoyelo as “the highest ranking LRA prisoner” to be captured by Ugandan troops operating in the Congo.

 

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