SIRâ€” I wish to comment on The New Vision last Wednesday, page 9, titled â€œPeace is Government responsibility.â€ For sometime now, there has been a ping pong of opinions, positions and statements from all categories of people about ending the northern Uganda insurgency-cum-terrorism.
What is incomprehensible, however, is their ardent belief in the pursuance of the peace talks option.
On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, hence the Government, I would like to make the following clear:-
1. President Museveni, his government and the security officials have not been unwilling to resolve the northern Uganda conflict by any legitimate means, including peace talks, here and/or abroad.
2. On the contrary, it is different people, organisations and groups that have often unfairly, through their statements and opinions, portrayed government and some of its officials as unwilling collaborators in the non-military means to resolve the conflict.
Two examples will do.
a) European Union ambassador Sigurd Illingâ€™s statement to Parliament recently, on behalf of those he represents, portrayed the Government as such an unwilling partner as described above. The Monitorâ€™s editorial of March 1 that the Government does not trust anyone who pushes for talks of any sort with the rebels is another.
b) Many people in their
individual capacities, organisations, singly or collectively, have tried to persuade the LRA
and their Joseph Kony to
dialogue with the Government without success.
l From 2003 backwards, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative had tried all they could in vain. But instead, Kony ordered the killing of Archbishop Odama and an all-out attack on all Catholic missions.
l In 1996, two Acholi elders acting as peace emissaries in the names of Mzee Ogoni and Lagony were murdered in Cwero, Gulu district, by the LRA. They were on their way to deliver a peace message to LRA leaders.
l In 2003, the President formed a presidential peace team, composed of northern Uganda bishops, MPs, first deputy prime minister Eriya Kategaya then, Lt Gen Salim Saleh and others, to explore and engage the LRA or its representatives in peace talks. Not only did the LRA ignore the PPT, they went ahead to murder one Oketch Kuru who had been sent by the PPT to deliver a peace message to the LRA in Cwero again. To that effect, the peace team in April 2003 made a public statement that their efforts had hit a dead end.
l This is over and above such other mediatory efforts by internationally reputable organisations like the Community of St Egidio of the Vatican in Rome, to which some of the religious leaders belong. The Jimmy Carter Foundation under ex-president Jimmy Carter himself tried and all of them were snubbed.
l The latest effort to be known is the one of the official communication contact and correspondence by Ambassador Illing with LRA leader Joseph Kony which has so far shown no success after a whole year.
l In light of all this, who can legitimately lambaste the Government, its officials and spokesman for being distrustful of the LRA?
l Similarly, how can donors or whoever else they may be, continue to make political statements, opinions and positions pushing the Government that it should have a dialogue with the LRA? Do they want the Government and its officials to soliloquise? This is the reason the Government is convinced that military operations must continue side by side with any other means if the LRA is to be neutralised.
Indeed, in the last seven months, the army has rescued abductees,
captured arms and put out
of action obstinate LRA
Major Shaban Bantariza
Peace Comes From Kony And The Govt, Not The Govt Alone!