Northern Uganda Leaders Scoff at LRA Peace Deal
Odwe (left) and Ochola: addressing a press confrence Monday morning.

Northern Uganda Leaders Scoff at LRA Peace Deal

Northern Uganda's leaders are tired of peacetalks. What does this mean to ending the situation in the north?

By Jude Bukenya
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First published: December 6, 2005

Kampala December 6th 2005
A peaceful end to the war in northern Uganda may still be a dream even after the Lords Resistance Army rebels offered a ceasefire and to talk peace with the government last week.

The Deputy Commander of the Lords Resistance Army Vincent Otti speaking by telephone on a talk show on K-fm, a Kampala based radio station, on Friday December 2nd said that the LRA was ready for renewed peace talks with the government to end the war.

However, the district Chairmen of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts on Monday morning scoffed at offers by the LRA to have another round of peace talks with the government.

Col Walter Ochola from Gulu, Edwin Komakech from Pader and Nathan Odwe from Kitgum have said that the rebels are just buying time to reorganize themselves.

The districts of Gulu, Pader and Kitgum are the most affected by the 19-year war in northern Uganda which has claimed many lives and left over 1.6 million people displaced.

“My self I have spent a lot of money by sending airtime to Otti when ever he expresses interest in talks but he turns around and uses the same airtime to co-ordinate ambushes on innocent people,” Ochola said.

Addressing journalists in Kampala on Monday December 5th, Ochola said that Otti and Kony are not interested in talking peace because they have been committing atrocities on their own people.

“Otti is in Congo where he wants to establish a base and make attacks again, which indicates that he is not interested in talking peace,” he added.

Kitgum district chairman Nathan Odwe said that the rebels are not serious since they have wasted several offers for peace talks with the government even after government assured them that it would meet their demands.

“This is a ploy used by the rebels to escape fire when ever they are cornered by government forces but they are small in number only making a few attacks here and there to threaten that they are a strong group,” Odwe said. “When they start asking for peace talks that is one way by which remnants who are dispersed regroup and start to reorganizing to look for food, raiding villages and camps.”

He added that the government has given the rebels various attempts to peace supported by chief peace broker, Betty Bigombe but the rebels have failed to be serious with what they say.

Betty Bigombe at Gulu Walk, Washington,DC October 22nd 2005.
Gulu Walk, Washington DC organizer, Reid Rector is in the foreground.

Ochola (left) and Komakech: addressing a press conference Monday morning.

Pader district chairman Edwin Yakobo Komakech re-echoed the concerns, saying that these attempts will not succeed owing to past experience where the rebels failed to agree with government.

He says that despite the opportunities of even fronting the destination for the talks the rebels are playing tricks to free themselves from the International Criminal Court charges and arrest warrants issued for them.

Such pronouncements by the top leaders of the three districts are bound to make a new quest for a peaceful end to the more difficult.

Cut aid given to northern Uganda
Meanwhile Northern Uganda will benefit from the six million euros of aid, which was cut off from the Uganda government by the Dutch government.

The media this weekend in Kampala reported that the Dutch government had cut off aid amounting to six million euros to Uganda citing some governance issues.

Aid cut which is a sign of no confidence in the government had raised eyebrows of many Ugandans especially those in poverty stricken areas like northern Uganda.

The chairperson Gulu District Col. Walter Ochola says that he has received communication from the Dutch government that the funds will be used to facilitate humanitarian work in the north through the UN humanitarian support programs.

“We should not worry because the money is still around our country; the latest letter I received from the Dutch embassy indicated to me that the aid will be re-channeled to northern Uganda,” Ochola said during Monday’s media briefing.

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By Jude Bukenya
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First published: December 6, 2005
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Jude Bukenya is a senior political and business reporter with Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd.