Uganda Peoples Congress
Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
Government Actions Undermine Peace Talks
21 March 2007
- It was recently announced that peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) will resume soon. The UPC welcomes the possible resumption of these talks.
- UPC calls upon the new mediators from South Africa, Kenya and other countries who will join these talks to work tirelessly to assist the people of Uganda to achieve genuine peace. The East Africa Community, the African Union and the United Nations should also intensify their efforts and interest in these talks.
- Ultimately what will make or break these talks will be the actions and attitude of the Government of Uganda. These go beyond what happens at the negotiating table in Juba . The government must take actions that inspire trust and confidence in its resolve to work for peace and democratic governance.
- There are so many recent actions by the government that send the wrong signals that government is not interested in democratic governance, rule of law, peace and sustainable economic and social development of Uganda. These actions undermine confidence in the government, raise suspicion and undermine the spirit of national reconciliation and instead harden peoples feelings and promote resort to forceful methods of resolving differences with an apparently insolent government.
- Among the wrong actions of government is the siege of the High Court by different sections of the military and the violence associated with it on March 1st this year. These regrettable events sent a clear signal that Uganda is far from moving back to the rule of law. The final arbiter, it was demonstrated in blood, is still the military and not courts of law. If unarmed persons cannot be allowed to enjoy the rule of law, how can armed rebels like the LRA be inspired to trust the government?
- The publication of a list of wanted criminals especially the LRA and ADF leaders in the Monday press was poorly timed and in bad taste. How can people who are listed as international criminals freely come out to negotiate peace?It was the biggest strategic blunder committed by the NRM government in its pursuit for a peaceful resolution of the LRA Conflict.
- The continued presence of the UPDF in Southern Sudan, long after the protocol between the governments of Uganda and Sudan ended, is also cause for concern. It not only gives excuses to the LRA about its security concerns, it also casts doubt on whether the government is genuinely interested in peaceful resolution of the conflict or is preparing and ready for resumption of the war. Moreover, it puts the UPDF among the armed groups in Southern Sudan that are suspected of ambushing travelers on the Juba road.
- The continued mismanagement and grabbing of national resources especially land, in the now infamous land bonanza, works to portray the government as a mercenary force involved in primitive accumulation. No serious person can negotiate freely with land grabbers.
- Insensitivity and recklessness by government on serious national issues also undermines trust in government. The proposed changes to land policy that threaten the cherished mailo land only serves to strengthen suspicion against the intolerant NRM government.
- This morning, it has been reported in the New Vision that cabinet has agreed to degazette the century's old Mabira forest and to give it away for sugar cane growing. A government that rubbishes all scientific and environmental data on the critical role of Mabira forest in Uganda's eco-system and refuses to listen to the environmental and economic arguments of millions of Ugandans stands out as a national scavenger. If the government can agree to destroy a priceless national heritage of monumental proportions, how can it be trusted to manage conflict?
- The list of NRM government's excesses, including alarming levels of corruption, is endless. Unless the government is willing to urgently change heart and begin the soul search and accommodation of the opposing voices, it would be a waste of time to pretend to talk peace in Juba. The peace talks and reconciliation should begin here in Kampala.
- The UPC calls upon its members to continue to monitor the NRM's excesses and campaign against them and the NRM. The people of Uganda and our friends in the international community are equally called upon to stand up and be counted in the struggle to free Uganda from the terrible shackles imposed by the NRM. This is the safest way to revive the Juba peace talks.
For God and my Country
Miria Kalule Obote