Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sudan Must Decide to Move Ugandan Troops to the Border


When Uganda government fell out with Congo, they sent their army into Congo to follow the rebels of the ADF there. What followed the arrival and stay of Uganda forces in Congo is a long list of mayhem and looting of Congo mineral wealth under various companies overseen by the Uganda army. Different militias were armed to exact killings against the other tribes in the region. The arms used were supplied by the Uganda army. The only people who operated in these areas were Uganda, Rwanda and Congolese nationals. Nothing has been heard about the ADF in spite of that being the reason Uganda went into Congo in the first place.

Now, using a similar strategies, Uganda has turned its attention to Sudan. The presence of Uganda troops in Sudan should have been very much modified such that they should have been staying close to the border. But for some reasons or others, Uganda troops are roaming free in southern Sudan as if it was its own territory. Does the question of sovereignty matter anymore?

A truce has been signed between Uganda and LRA witnessed by the government of Southern Sudan. Our able reporters of the Daily Monitor in Southern Sudan and Uganda have reported that the truce has been broken or violated by both the LRA and Uganda government. These reporters are aware that the LRA was to report to two locations: Owiny Kibul and Rii Kwangba. Although these reporters were not part of the negotiation, couldn't they see that this was tantamount to suicide by the LRA? But they did not even as much as point that out; let alone taking the high ground of criticizing it for ‘impossibility of performance.’ So, the UPDF comes very close to Owiny Kibul where LRA are converging. The LRA sees danger and vacates the location. Monitor reporters wrote that LRA and government troops have violated the spirit of the agreement. This glaring conspiracy will do nothing but erode any vestige of confidence in the intention of Uganda government troops. In truth, it was the approaching encirclement by UPDF that caused the LRA to leave the assembly point.
The reporters also stated “Eyewitnesses claim the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army carried out the massacres.” Who are the eyewitnesses and who interviewed them? Without this information, the newspaper would be better off not publishing such a questionable story and sending it around the world. When several attempts to negotiate peace were made within Uganda, it never lasted as long as it has lasted in Juba today. The UPDF would find ways to try and ambush the rebels and as soon as the LRA gets winds of UPDF plans, they would disperse for their safety. That would be the end of peace talks.
Now with the involvement of the government of southern Sudan, the UPDF are finding it very difficult to torpedo the peace talks. However, they are not leaving any ‘stones unturned’ before continuing with the peace talks. Already they have participated in killing 41 people most of whom were civilian with the hope that they can embroil southern Sudan in the mess and eventually scuttle the peace talks. Sudan has acknowledged the four attacks by ‘different armed ambushes by a group we have not yet ascertained’ but Uganda has already put the blame, unequivocally, on the LRA. How can this be? And as would be intended by Uganda, Machar responded with great emotion as reported in the Monitor newspaper from Uganda; “Shocked and incensed by the violent scene, Machar drove back to Juba and summoned the LRA delegation for a meeting on Tuesday night. The LRA negotiators, who had stayed at the Juba Bridge Hotel in protest over Sunday's incursions, however, declined to respond to Machar’s calls.” Under this scenario, Uganda hopes to impel Sudan to make rash decisions and perhaps even attack the LRA thereby scuttling the peace talks completely.


Uganda government especially the military wing composed of the original NRA, do not wish to relinquish power and the privileges they have become so used to in the past eighteen years or so. Furthermore, the piecemeal operations towards the LRA provide ample excuses and tangible proofs to attract more funds from donors than a successful return of peace to the region. Also, the economic damage in the north is a big boon for diverted funds to the south where the bigwigs of NRA come from. This will stop as soon as there is peaceful resolution and ensuing reconstruction of the north. And most ominous of all is the combined size and quality of economic recovery of northern and eastern regions of Uganda plus all the peripheral regions including southern Sudan. These regions that have been suffering under Museveni dictatorial regime will become an unassailable force against Yoweri’s army of oppressors. Sudan can demand that Uganda soldiers be located on Uganda side of the border for as long as the peace talks last so that it will have fewer forces to deal with on its side of the border. It is its sovereign's right to demand so! This is the most relevant decision it can make immediately. Otherwise Museveni is going to cause mayhem in southern Sudan.

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