Wednesday, 5 November 2003

Kampala (Fides Service)- “A military option is not a solution for the war in northern Uganda. The governments of the United States and European Union members must pressure Uganda and Sudan to find a negotiated solution” a missionary in Kitgum, in northern Uganda, tells Fides, commenting the offensive launched recently by the army against the Lord’s Resistance Army LRA (see Fides 3 November 2003). During the fighting the LRA second in command Charles Tubuley was reportedly killed. “Tubuley’s body has not yet been found because, the authorities say, the rebels have hidden it ” local Fides sources say. “The good news is the liberation of hundreds of child soldiers and more security conditions in the districts of Gulu and Kitgum. Unfortunately the rebels have now concentrated their attacks in the Tesso area laying ambushes along the roads ”.
“There is no proper plan behind this violence: for the LRA leaders war is now almost a way of life. This makes it difficult to convince them to hand over their weapons. Nevertheless religious leaders and government representatives continue behind the scenes to negotiate with the rebels ” the missionary says. “Although President Museveni has taken a strong public position against the LRA - seeing the atrocities committed by certain groups – I think that if the rebels decided to negotiate seriously the government would be ready to negotiate to put an end to the violence.”
“I would say that there is growing expectation for a turning point. On the one hand the army seems to have reduced the rebels’ offensive power, on the other the peace process in Sudan has opened new prospects also for Uganda. Sudan in fact has been accused for years by Uganda of supporting the LRA. In turn Khartoum accuses Kampala of supporting rebels in Sudan. If this game of reciprocal interference were to end no doubt the LRA finding itself without support would be forced to negotiate.”
Recently the United States government announced it was sending military aid to Uganda. In fact for Washington the LRA is a “terrorist organisation”. The missionary comments: “If on the one hand the civilian population must be defended on the other every path to restore peace must be tried. The United States and the European Union should encourage all sides in Uganda and in Sudan to start negotiating.”.
LRA has been fighting since the late 1980s to replace the government led by President Museveni with an administration which they say will be founded on the ten commandments of the Bible. In this endeavour the LRA has committed violence against civilians, kidnapping hundreds of children forcing them to fight alongside their own militia. (L.M.) (Fides Service 5/10/2003, lines 39 words 483)