Uganda: Chasing Ghosts


December 29, 2009: Reports of LRA (Lords Resistance Army) activity in southeastern Central African Republic (CAR) continue to crop up. Both CAR and Ugandan government sources report that the LRA are hungry and without food. Uganda now openly admits it has military units in the CAR, hunting the LRA.

December 21, 2009: The whispers about getting the International Criminal Court (ICC) to drop war crimes charges against LRA commander Joseph Kony are getting fainter and fainter. For awhile several diplomats made the argument that there would be no agreement as long as Kony faced trial and imprisonment. Kony made the argument, too. He said the charges had to be dropped. Over the years, Kony also said a lot of other things, among them being he would sign a peace deal. He hasn't. The LRA massacres in the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan have solidified disgust and contempt for Kony. The attacks in the CAR only further contribute to a regional hatred for the LRA. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay made a statement on the subject, saying that LRA leaders had to be tried for their crimes. Pillay added this: "The brutality employed (by the LRA) during the attacks was consistent, deliberate and egregious.”

December 18, 2009: The Italian oil company Eni recently acquired the rights to Uganda's oil fields. Ordinarily this would cause little comment, except Libya is a major investor in Eni. Libya under Col Mohammar Qaddafi has a bad record for interfering in sub-Saharan African politics. Qaddafi sent Libyan forces to Uganda in 1978-79 to support Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Qadaffi's support for Amin is not forgiven nor forgotten.

December 17, 2009: The government reported that three marine police officers (ie, officers assigned to patrol Ugandan lakes) had allegedly fired on a group of Kenyan fisherman. Two Kenyans were wounded in the incident, which occurred on Migingo Island. Migingo is in Lake Victoria. Both Kenya and Uganda claim the island and its fishing ground. The two countries have agreed to resolve the dispute. Uganda maintains a police camp on the island. Kenya accuses Uganda of allowing Ugandans (and occasionally Ugandan police) to physically intimidate Kenyan fishermen.

December 14, 2009: The US ambassador to Uganda said that the US intends to help Uganda fight the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

December 8, 2009: A comment by the minister of defense that the tactic of confining civilians to camps in northern Uganda during the height of the war with the LRA was (quote) "an effective military tool for counter-insurgency” has led to new demands for a review of those camps. Most of them were in the Gulu area (which was the heart of the LRA insurgency). The government had argued that the camps were established protect the civilians, who were “soft targets” as far as the LRA was concerned. Critics said the government forced the civilians to enter the camps. Several human rights organizations also accused the government of failing to provide services (like food and medical aid) to the camps. The first camps were established in late 1996. At the time the government did say having civilians in those camps would allow the Ugandan Army to more freely engage the LRA.




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