I just heard from a friend in Europe that the Ugandan government and the LRA have agreed to a ceasefire in their long-running armed conflict in northern Uganda.
Thus far, the government had been refusing to commit to a ceasefire, perhpas hoping to be able to impose even greater military pressure on the LRA. The leaders and most of the remaining fighters of the LRA have been holed up in the bush on the South Sudan-DRC border, but last week one LRA leader ventured into Uganda, was caught in a firefight with the army there, and was reportedly killed.
Anyway, I just checked with the Kampala Daily Monitor, and they confirm the story. Writing with a ‘mixed’ dateline from Juba in S. Sudan (where the LRA-government peace talks have been going on), in the north Ugandan capital of Gulu, and the national capital Kampala, a team of DM reporters writes:
- JUBA was gripped with excitement last night when word came through that the government in Kampala has finally agreed to a cessation of hostilities with the LRA rebels.
Sources inside the talks said the LRA delegation was pleased when the contents of an e-mail from President Yoweri Museveni to his South Sudan counterpart Riek Machar were communicated to them last evening.
“They found that the new conditions from the President were not so stringent and agreed unanimously,” said a government delegate. “We therefore expect to announce a bilateral ceasefire simultaneously in Juba and Kampala tomorrow (Friday) at 10.00 am.
Meanwhile the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels have demanded more cabinet portfolios for the northern and eastern regions…
If this ceasefire takes hold and the peace process then accelerates towards a sustainable peace agreement, that will be fantastic news for the peoples of northern Uganda, some 85 percent of whom have spent many years now confined by law in encampments described variously as “IDP camps” or “strategic hamlets”.
Anyway, it looks as though the LRA– which has committed some terrible atrocities against (especially) the people of northern Uganda– is now looking to discuss the political dimesntions of a peace settlement. Civilian leaders of the Acholi community there have, of course, been seeking politically inclusive reform measures for a long time now.
Please, let’s all hope and pray that this works out.
… Interestingly, if it does do so, this will also give a significant political boost to Dr. Riek Machar, the President of Southern Sudan who has convened and hosted the talks, and this in turn could lead to a new model of state and sub-state politics emerging in this part of Central Africa. Not altogether a bad possibility, given that the existing “international” borders there are all nearly completely dysfunctional, having been drawn up by European potentates in 1885 to satisfy their own balance-of-power and imperial interests, rather than the needs of the indigenous African communities concerned…
But that’s for the future. For now, remembering my recent visit to some people in the Inyama IDP camp and to others affected badly by the conflict in Gulu and Kampala, I’m just focusing on hoping that an intra-Ugandan peace agreement can be concluded. And quickly. (I think the farmers in the Inyama camp have already missed out on the current growing season in their lands– which surround and in many cases are easily visible from the sordid huts within the camp.)