Uganda: Explosive Peace

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May 4, 2009: The leftovers of twenty years of war plague the peace, and in northern Uganda it remains a fragile peace. The tribes of northern Uganda confront an unexploded munitions (unexploded ordinance, UXO) problem. The government reported that people continue to turn up LRA ammunition caches, Usually it is a few rifle rounds but sometimes hand grenades turn up. One village, Palukere, had a reputation as a haven for LRA fighters. Farmers around Palukere report finding hidden mortar shells, mines, and rocket-propelled grenades. An unexploded aircraft bomb (delivered by the Ugandan military) turned up near Palukere. The Ugandan Mine Action Center (a mine disposal operation) has identified two minefields that must be cleared. “Deminers” are active around the globe. For example, “forgotten” mines turn up in Cambodia and Vietnam.

The government reported that fights have broken out in northern Uganda among returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The cause of the trouble is disputes over who owns the land. There have also been violent fights between IDPs and locals, who took over the land when the refugees fled. Returning IDPs was an important part of the government’s peace deal with Acholi tribes who were sympathetic to the LRA.

April 28, 2009: The government ordered the Ugandan Army to lower the Ugandan flag on Migingo Island (Lake Victoria). Kenya and Uganda both claim the island and it has sparked a sharp political dispute between the two countries. The government has decided to pursue a diplomatic solution. A demarcation panel may rule soon on which country owns the island.

April 27, 2009: The Banyoro tribe (western Uganda) has asked the government to recognize the validity of a 1955 colonial agreement which gives the tribe rights to mineral resources on their property. Tribal land rights are a very complex issue in Uganda. The discovery of oil in western Uganda has made it more complex.

April 20, 2009: The Ugandan Army (Uganda Peoples Defense Force, UPDF) said that it is investigating charges that the Catholic Church aid agency, Caritas, illegally delivered supplies to LRA fighters. The army said that in late March security officials in south Sudan “intercepted” a convoy of 13 trucks that were taking food from Uganda to eastern Congo. The report from Sudan identified the food on board the trucks as food provided by Caritas. During the long on and off peace negotiations, Caritas has provided food (with Ugandan government approval) to LRA rebels in assembly areas in south Sudan

April 17, 2009: The government acknowledged that some Ugandan military forces are still operating inside the Congo. The force is described as “small.” The stay-behind force is serving in a liaison role with the Congolese Army. However, the Ugandan Army also acknowledged that a Ugandan officer was killed in the first two weeks of April when a Congolese Army unit fought with LRA rebels.

April 12, 2009: The LRA said that its commander, Joseph Kony, will under no circumstances sign the negotiated peace agreement as it currently exists. Kony is quoted as saying that the current peace agreement will simply lead to his arrest for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The LRA argues that the government wants to war to continue and really has no interest in a peace treaty.

 

 

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