INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: More Northern Ugandan Officials Going to Juba

Published: Fri 11 Aug 2006 12:47 PM
VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB
DE RUEHKM #1534/01 2231247
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111247Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7410
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0471
UNCLAS KAMPALA 001534
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR AF, AF/E, DRL, INR, PRM
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF PREL PGOV UG SU
SUBJECT: MORE NORTHERN UGANDAN OFFICIALS GOING TO JUBA
REF: KHARTOUM 1894
1. (SBU) Summary: Ugandan officials view this week's
back-and-forth by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) delegation
as nervous "antics" rather than a threat to the peace process
and continue to support confidence-building efforts by
northern Ugandans. A group of five northern Ugandan
parliamentarians will be trekking to Juba to take part in the
negotiations. They will join the group of local government
and religious leaders led by Gulu District Chairman Norbert
Mao to serve as a resource to both the Ugandan Government and
LRA delegations. The parliamentarians view their role as one
of bolstering the confidence of the LRA leadership in the
peace talks and the reconciliation process. They are
concerned that Vincent Otti's preoccupation with the
International Criminal Court indictment will keep him away
from the talks, thus preventing real progress at Juba. The
Ugandan parliament may soon amend the amnesty law to cover
the LRA's top leadership. End Summary.
2. (SBU) The LRA's back-and-forth this week, including its
declaration of the unilateral cease-fire and "walk-out" is to
be expected, according to Norbert Mao, who recently led a
delegation to see Joseph Kony at Garamba National Park. He
told poloff on August 11 that the LRA walk-outs are nervous
"antics" designed to get attention and bide time while deputy
LRA commander, Vincent Otti, mulls over his participation at
Juba. Mao said that last week Otti agreed in principle to
join the talks, but continues to fear being turned over to
the ICC despite the Government of Southern Sudan's assurances
that it would not do so. (Reftel) Machar also offered Otti
sanctuary in southern Sudan after a peace deal is concluded,
according to Mao. In addition, Chief Negotiator Riek Machar
reminded Otti that Sudan does not recognize the ICC, but Otti
is concerned about being "snatched" by the United Nations in
and around Juba. Mao said that he offered himself to the LRA
as collateral for Otti's safe passage and return to Juba. He
told Kony and Otti that he would remain at Garamba in
exchange for Otti's participation as long as necessary. To
date, Mao has not been taken up on his offer.
3. (SBU) Mao clarified press reports that he would
participate in the talks on the LRA delegation. Mao
described the LRA as "overwhelmed" by the peace process and
in search of "comfort. He told Kony that could not
participate on the LRA delegation because the LRA did not
wage war on behalf of northern Ugandans. However, he
suggested to Kony that the northern Ugandan delegation could
serve in an advisory capacity as a middle group representing
northern society to both the LRA and the GOU. Mao is leading
the participation of northern Ugandan local, traditional, and
religious leaders at Juba in close coordination with the
Presidency to bring northern Ugandans into the process and to
persuade the LRA that its members can be accepted back into
society. Chief negotiator Riek Machar has agreed to allow
them to sit in on negotiating sessions, according to Mao.
Reagan Okummu, MP from Gulu, told poloffs that a second group
of the 15 Acholi members of parliament will be headed to the
talks in two weeks to discuss with the LRA traditional means
of establishing peace and reconciliation.
4. (SBU) A more important aspect of parliamentary
participation for the LRA is that the Ugandan parliament will
likely amend the national amnesty act to include the names of
LRA leaders as part of the peace process. As a result, the
traveling parliamentarians told poloffs, they can make
President Museveni's amnesty pledge the law of the land. One
member of the delegation, Ezati Wadri, the parliamentary
opposition leader, told poloffs that the potential for
"external interference" (i.e. ICC) looms large in his direct
discussions with Otti and among parliamentarians. The
resolution of the war in northern Uganda is a national issue
on which there is consensus across party lines. In his
opinion, parliament, including the opposition, will support
legalizing the amnesty for the LRA's leadership in the
interest of bringing peace.
5. (SBU) The GOU will continue to view with suspicion the
LRA's demand for it to declare a cease-fire, according to
Foreign Ministry and military officials. The GOU wants the
modalities of a cease-fire to be negotiated and signed at the
upcoming negotiating session. Government officials claim the
LRA has never respected a cease-fire in the past. As a
result, the Government is pressing for the cease-fire
discussions to begin at the talks or for the rebels to
disclose their locations as a pre-condition for a cease-fire
declaration on its part. The LRA is unlikely to accept this
pre-condition, according to Mao.
- - - -
COMMENT
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6. (SBU) Despite a week of frustrating developments and
contradictory reports from Garamba and Juba, Ugandan
officials remain optimistic that the northern war is in its
end game and that it is only a matter of time before a deal
it reached. There is a feeling, however, that Vincent Otti
must be persuaded to participate for the breakthrough to
occur and that the ICC remains the cause of the blockage. In
the meantime, the GOU continues to support local initiatives
regardless of the colorful personalities and inevitable local
interests at play, especially those of Chairman Mao whose
photograph hugging Kony is the subject of derision. At the
national level, there appears to be cross-party support for
amnesty for the LRA leadership though the Government will
need to work with non-Acholi ethnic groups in districts such
as Lango and Teso in order to codify Museveni's pledge.
BROWNING
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