Kony Wants Peace... Again
Watch a message from actor John Amos.
about the crisis in northern Uganda
more from author >>
First published: May 23, 2006
There have also been concerns that neither government nor the Lords Resistance Army rebels seem ready to give each other the necessary benefit of trust in talking peace.
On Saturday May 12th, the Sudanese Vice President and President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir delivered a message from the overall Commander of LRA, Joseph Kony to President Yoweri Museveni in which Kony was seeking to have peace talks. This was after Kony reportedly held talks with Kiir's deputy Riek Machar in Southern Sudanese jungle of the Equatorial province. In the message, the rebels asked for direct peace talks with the government of Uganda in order to bring an end to the 20 year old northern Uganda war, which has claimed many lives and caused tremendous suffering to the people in northern and eastern Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni, in a meeting with the visiting British Overseas Development minister, Hilary Benn on Tuesday last week said that he had accepted the offer by the LRA and its top leadership up to July 2006 to talk peace and end the war.
But the International Criminal Court, which has already indicted Kony and four other LRA leaders, said on Thursday that Museveni and his government must fulfill their obligations to arrest Kony and other LRA rebels and take them for trial, instead of giving in to talk peace with them.
This has made the peace talks offer look less likely to materialize, as it adds to strong concerns from many leaders in northern Uganda who doubt whether the message calling for peace talks, was indeed from Joseph Kony. Some think that even if it is from Kony, the rebel leader may be trying to be divert the pressure mounted on him by the military operations against him by the Ugandan army, United Nations Peace Keeping force, Sudanese Peoples Liberations Army and Democratic Republic of Congo forces, as well as the pending prosecution by the International criminal Court.
Erute North Member of Parliament, Charles Angiro Gutomoi however thinks that anything from Kony and the LRA that opens up for peace talks should be welcomed.
"Anybody who refuses peace negotiations with Kony may be seen as the one responsible for the continued death of the people in northern Uganda," he said in an interview today.
MP Angiro is not sure whether Kony is interested in peace talks but says the government must welcome any efforts towards peace negations with the rebels whether from Kony or his commanders. He says that the Northern Uganda conflict should be called a world failure.
"The whole world has failed to capture Kony and his leaders or end the conflict because it is a worldwide known conflict. Therefore it should not be President Museveni to accept the message or not, but how the world reacts to the message for peace talks," he said.
Despite many attempts by the government to hold peace talks which have been turned down by the rebels he said Museveni should take interest in the previous week's message without suspicion.
Last year on December 31st 2005 the peace talks between the government team led by the outgoing minister of Internal Affairs Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and the rebels led by Brig Sam Kolo (who surrendered) had reached a climax but later hit a snag when the rebels failed to turn up on the day of signing the peace pact.
On that last day of 2005, all media were awash with headlines of peace finally coming to northern Uganda but it didn't come to pass.
"Our people have suffered enough therefore government should not at all treat such attempts of peaceful negotiations with suspicion," adds Aruu county MP, Odonga Otto who is from Pader district, one of the three districts most affected by the war.
Otto said that whether the international community mounts pressure on the rebels to the contrary, the government should use the opportunity to talk to the rebels.
Otto said that the government from the beginning had thought that the LRA was a small issue but it has failed to end the conflict for the last twenty years.
But not all leaders from northern Uganda think Kony and his LRA deserve as much an ear from government. Lamwo County MP in Kitgum district Hillary Onek is on the extreme, calling upon all religious and other spiritual leaders to come together and pray for Kony to die. He said that it is hard to believe what Kony says because he has turned down many opportunities given to him by the international community and Ugandan government.
The Outgoing Minister of Primary education, Nyombi Thembo said that he believes Museveni has always forgiven rebels who surrender and is optimistic that Museveni will treat Kony's message with maximum attention if rebels are willing to talk.
The Northern Uganda conflict has attracted the attention of the most powerful countries like the United States of America which early this month promised to capture the rebel leader, who crossed to back to Sudan from DRC, before this year ends. However leaders from the northern Uganda do not know exactly where the rebel leader is currently hiding. Neither is the government nor the international community clear on Kony. This has retrained fears that despite all efforts to capture him, Kony and some LRA leaders will remain at large for longer and continue wrecking havoc to the people and property in northern Uganda.
more from author >>
First published: May 23, 2006
Risdel Kasasira is a graduate Journalist who reports for Ultimate Media Consult. He has worked for The Daily Monitor, Radio Uganda and has done several communication related consultancies. He is also the Research Executive at Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd.
Gerald Rulekere is a Journalist and member of Ultimate Media Consult. He has written and published extensively on business and gender issues and been writing for Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd for the last two years. A professional and graduate journalist, Rulekere is always looking for an opportunity to better his writing especially for international media.