Ugandan Blogosphere: Juba Peace Talks and Best of Blogs

If the activity in January and early February is a sign of things to come, 2007 promises to be a banner year for relevancy, engagement and quality of content in the Ugandan blogosphere.

The Juba Peace Talks between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda, whose wheels had been humming energetically as recently as October, have ground to a halt, with reports early this week of rebel movement towards the Central African Republic (CAR). However, Uganda-CAN, a leading policy advocacy organization has helped fill the void by creating an 8-part interactive blog series called ‘What's At Stake in the Juba Peace Talks.’ Two highlights:

On Implementing Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA):

The LRA rebels’ presence in southern Sudan is further weakening the CPA. They continue to destabilize the region, making it more difficult for the GOSS to rebuild institutions and communities. The NCP may also try to maintain its monopoly on political power and access to oil revenues by renewing its support for the LRA in an attempt to destabilize the south and prevent its secession. However, success in the Juba peace talks would help consolidate the gains towards peace and democracy in South Sudan initiated by the CPA over the past two years, which in turn are crucial to the hopes for the stabilization of Darfur.

On Peace in Karamoja:

The proliferation of arms in the region from conflicts in northern Uganda, southern Sudan, and Somalia has also fueled Karamajong cattle raids in the neighboring Iteso and Acholi regions of Uganda, undermining the Juba peace talks by making northern Uganda less secure and safe for IDPs to begin returning home. If the Juba peace talks succeed in bringing stability to northern Uganda despite this, the Ugandan government might be encouraged to seek a peaceful solution to the violence in Karamoja. However, a failure of the parties to the Juba talks to come to an agreement would greatly hamper efforts to address the arms proliferation, political tensions and humanitarian crisis in Karamoja.

In other news, we can see the level of organization, profile and relevancy of Ugandan bloggers rising. The first Uganda Bloggers Happy Hour in Kampala in mid-January was discussed by prominent Amsterdam based podcaster Bicycle Mark as well as the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala. Coming up in February, nominations are due for the First Annual Uganda Best of Blog Awards (make nominations here by February 15th), the awards for the cream of the Uganda blogging crop, and the second Uganda Bloggers Happy Hour will take place in Kampala.

In other news, Uganda blogger and provocateur Dennis Matanda is quickly becoming much talked about across the the African blogosphere. In our last Uganda roundup, we talked about his proposal for recolonization of Africa. This post has been muched talked about, including this comment from White African:

Want to become an instant pariah? Talk about race in Africa. How about you continue and blame Africans for Africa’s problems, and how Africa isn’t living up to it’s potential. How about you make things even more explosive and talk about how things would be better if the white man was back in control. Stirring up a huge pot, that no one in their right mind would want to touch, Dennis Matanda has really put himself on the map.

This week, Matanda published 100,000 Guns Later, another provocative article detailing the subtle connection between Uganda's history of ethnic militirization and today's proliferation of weapons in the big business private security apparatus:

Uganda has over 100,000 guns floating around. It is roughly estimated that there are over 5,000 guns in private citizen’s hands; another 22,000 in the private security firm’s armories, a colossal 20,000 amongst the Karimojong, another approximately 18,000 with the police force, 50,000 plus divided amongst the regular army – and maybe 5,000 or so scattered amongst the many secret and sub secret security organs.

The point I am trying to make is encased in the fact that a great many Ugandans have lost their jobs and their livelihoods under the Yoweri Museveni years, 1986 to the present. The country has never been as polarized as it is right now. Our future has never been as uncertain as it is today. We are living in a bubble as it could burst any time. Unlike the Obote time in 1985, these over 100,000 guns in the “wrong hands” could do damage to ordinary people like me.

Finally, Ugandan bloggers are continuing to cover issues out of the sight of mainstream media. In Uganda there is much talk about the plight of both urban and rural Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's). However, I Left Copenhagen for Uganda provides a fascinating piece that addresses the plight of Sudanese refugees displaced in Uganda:

Officially, there is peace now in southern Sudan, and asking any Sudanese refugee if he/she is to return, they answer positively. Asking ‘when that would be more specifically?’, they whirl into abstract explanations, finally concluding ‘that when the repatriation starts, that will be’. Translated into plain English it basically means ‘when there is someone facilitating the transport’. It is very simple, someone else (UNHCR) brought them here, now those ones must also bring them back.

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