Global Policy Forum

Uganda Rebels on Historic Visit

November 1, 2007

Representatives of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebels have arrived for their first offical visit to the capital without fear of arrest.

They are being accompanied by some of the mediators and observers from the talks taking place in southern Sudan. The negotiations are aimed at ending 21 years of conflict between LRA fighters and government forces in the north. On Friday, they will go up north to start consultations with victims on the issues of justice and accountability. They were greeted at Entebbe airport by the interior minister and the government's chief negotiator at peace talks, Dr Ruwakana Rusunda.

Last year, LRA leaders signed a truce in 2006 with the government at the talks in Sudan. LRA leader Joseph Kony remains at a rebel camp across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has refused to take part in long-running but stalled talks unless the International Criminal Court lifts an arrest warrant against him and other top rebel leaders.

On Wednesday, the LRA once again dismissed reports of fighting between Mr Kony and his deputy, leading to mass desertions and a spilt in the movement. The person making the accusations is the LRA's Opiyo Makasi who arrived at Entebbe airport on Thursday evening after surrendering last week in DR Congo.

Sticking point

Earlier, Dr Rugunda, told the BBC the visit was a very positive development that would enhance confidence in the peace process. "The LRA leaders will be safe just like any other Ugandan is safe during their visit," he told the BBC Network Africa programme. LRA spokesman Godfrey Ayoo admitted that the team had security fears but insisted that they will forge ahead with their mission. "The value of what we are doing starting today is much higher than the fear, we want this to be the last conflict in Uganda whereby people will never again take up weapons to resolve their problems," Mr Ayoo told the BBC.

The LRA's chief negotiator, Martin Ojul, will travel to northern Uganda on Friday where he will carry out consultations with local politicians, community leaders and the general public on the issue of justice and accountability. The BBC's Sarah Grainger in Kampala says this is a key sticking point in the negotiations. The government and the rebels have decided broadly on how justice and reconciliation should be handled. But the agreement signed in June fails to address the issue of the ICC, our correspondent says. Traditional forms of justice have been suggested as an alternative to the ICC but are much less punitive. During their rebellion, the rebels used the abduction of children and mutilation of adults to bolster their cause. More than one million people have been driven from their homes.


It had been thought the LRA delegation was to meet President Yoweri Museveni during their time in Kampala, however, this has yet to be confirmed. The seeds of the conflict were sown in the defeat of the Ugandan army in 1986 by forces loyal to Mr Museveni. The defeated fighters fled north, reformed and eventually rallied behind a spiritualist - Alice Lakwena. She was in turn defeated a year later, leaving a power vacuum in northern Uganda. It was this vacuum that Mr Kony filled.

In recent years, with dwindling support from Sudan, the LRA have been on the run. The BBC's Africa analyst Martin Plaut says finding sanctuary in remote areas of DR Congo and funding their operations from diamond mines, the rebel movement is a shadow of its former self. But ending their rebellion is still vital if peace is to come to northern Uganda, he says.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on International Criminal Court Investigations: Uganda
More Information on International Criminal Court Investigations
More Information on Uganda


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.