It's been an excellent week for big news and sharp writing in Uganda. The peace talks in Juba continue to dominate the agenda. Last week, a renewed ceasefire gave LRA rebels until Dec. 1 to assemble at the two meeting points in Southern Sudan. The Government lead at the talks, Internal Affairs Minister Rugunda, remained confident in the success of the talks, and nearly all major donors pledged funds to support the talks.
One conspicuously absent donor was the United States. Uganda-CAN asks why:
At this point, we cannot help but wonder what interests the Bush Administration is worried about hurting or losing if it shows any support for this historic peace initiative. Is it worried that it could hurt its alliance with President Museveni, whom has been a strategic ally in the war on terror? Is it worried that it could hurt the working relationship between the UPDF and the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)? Is the it worried that it could lose the U.S. military's air base at Entebbe Airport? Is the it worried it could hurt foreign military sales to Uganda? Is it worried that it could hurt its business interests in the country at a time with China's influence on the continent is growing? Whatever it is, it appears that the White House is putting perceived geopolitical, military or economic interests before the interests of northern Ugandans in peace after 20 years of brutal war.
Meanwhile, Ngromrom remains highly critical of the Government's intentions at the Juba talks:
Right now as I speak, if the Museveni government were to remove the NRA soldiers from all detaches, reverse its policy towards the people in eastern and northern Uganda, promote a committee for reconciliation, obtain and disburse fund for rehabilitation of the northern and eastern regions, revert maintaining of law and order to the police, embark on a program to empower the people in all communities, the Juba peace talk would become redundant. These few points would result in a speedy return to normalcy in Uganda. Juba isn't the only place where Ugandans are making plans for after the conflict.
In a controversial move, the Government has announced that it is shutting down all IDP camps by the end of the year. While many welcomed Government moves to take post-conflict development of the North seriously, critics, including Jackfruity, believe that the move was dangerously premature:
The government's showy closing of the IDP camps as proof that northern Uganda is finally safe is a dangerous move, with the potential to further damage the lives of millions of conflict-affected people. Though LRA attacks have dramatically reduced since the beginning of the peace talks in Juba, a better system for resettlement needs to be firmly in place before IDPs are forced to return.
Further south, in the dusty town square Kasana, in Luwero District, In An African Minute reports on a little noticed meeting that could be the first step towards creating a Ugandan culture of reconciliation:
On Wednesday, October 11th, 2006, The Daily Monitor published an unlikely headline: ‘North Seeks Reconciliation With Luwero’ The article (not available online), written by Rogers Mulindwa, goes on to describe a meeting between cultural, NGO and political leaders from the greater northern region, and their counterparts from Luwero (central Uganda). The leaders from the north asked for forgiveness for the crimes committed against the people of Luwero by the Oboto regime in the 1980's. To understand the significance of this meeting, one must understand that for many Ugandans, the Luwero Massacres are symbolic of deep and complicated divisions that exist within Uganda's many regions, tribes and ethnic groups. More often than not, these divisions are sealed with memories of blood.
A long time member of the Ugandan press, but a newcomer to the blogosphere. Angelo Izama, on the Sub-Saharan African Round Table, writes penetratingly on the legacy of a hardworking president:
An author himself, Museveni and the critic Kalyegira aught to get together and write a book possibly entitled “A Backward Dream: From Third World to Third World,” the biography of a frustrated Ugandan president. The stasis in Uganda as in elsewhere on the continent is however constructed not just on poor economic policies, tribal wars and an exclusionist global trading environment but also on a debilitating attitude crisis. If writers like Kalyegira mourn that Africans do not amount to much, he and others do not work on expanding Africa’s options more. Instead, there is a retreat by his ilk to another favorite African pastime, the opaque sanctuary of religion and myths like white supremacy.