A decision by the Council of Europe- the highest decision making body of the European Union- to urge the Lord’s Resistance Army to sign a peace agreement has been publicly endorsed by Ugandan government officials but experts and officials alike privately expressed skepticism.In a meeting of its external relations covering the Great Lakes the council asked the LRA to “honour its commitment to sign the final peace agreement” as part of a “comprehensive approach” to dealing with insecurity caused by the LRA and other militias. “The Council underlines the importance of the Government of Uganda implementing all applicable provisions of the Juba Peace Agreements” minutes from the meeting said also separately calling on peaceful approach to the question of the September riots sparked off by a standoff between the Central government and the Kingdom of Buganda. “Ugandan Government to resolve any political disputes through peaceful dialogue and democratic institutions” the resolution said pointing out that a “level playing field” should be cultivated ahead of the 2011 elections. However the principled stand of the EU described by one Ugandan diplomat as “eternal optimism about peace” has often clashed with the pragmatic stance of the government side on the LRA issue and the culture of down and dirty politics especially around elections in general. The EU is a major funder of a peace and stability architecture for the Great Lakes and invests considerably in peace and democracy programs in countries like Uganda. “The option [for the LRA] to sign the Final Peace Agreement remains open if there is a change of heart” said Ambassador James Mugume- the chief technocrat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. Mugume however adds that he personally did not see the rebels signing a peace agreement in the near future. The LRA shirked putting pen to paper to an agreement which took two years to negotiate and hundreds of man hours by local, regional and international groups. Unlike the EU, Washington was more agreeable to a military solution to extinguish the rebel threat and eventually backed Operation Lightning Thunder [OTF]. The operation, launched in December 2007 as a tri-nation effort, was however not successful in crippling the LRA’s capacity to kill and disrupt civilian lives. Yesterday Aswa country MP Reagan Okumu said the position of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, one of the key interlocutors during the peace process, was that a peace agreement was the only viable final solution. “For two reasons. Firstly because the military option has miserably failed and because it is immoral for President Yoweri Museveni to pursue and kill the LRA made up of mainly abductees that his own forces failed to protect” he said. Since the end of 2007 the LRA path has followed initial intelligence reports that the rebels were heading to Darfur and would be deployed there with the support of the Khartoum government. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army claimed they had rescued 45 people abducted by the LRA in Darfur from an attack which occurred on October 21.
European Union to Uganda; LRA must sign peace deal
Tagged under: Great lakes peace