It is Illegal for the UN and NGOs to Advocate for War in Northern Uganda

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The Ugandan government has always wanted and used military means trying to end the war but to no avail.

On June 24, 2009, The Monitor newspaper, Kampala Uganda published and article entitled “ UN halts Joachim Chissano’s role in LRA talks,” relating to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s move to abandon the peaceful means and instead engage the LRA rebels militarily.

Although Chissano’s role in the mediation has been questionable by those who suspected he was somewhat biased still the move to remove him caught many people unaware. The order for an immediate end of Chissano’s role in peace mediation and an immediate and premature closure of his office in Kampala was in one word, shocking.

The Ugandan government has always wanted and used military means trying to end the war but to no avail. In fact, the current prevailing peace in the region was brought about as a result of a peace agreement and a ceasefire that was declared by the LRA in 2006. Since then, the LRA has not bothered people inside northern Uganda. It was until they were attacked from their bases in the Congo that they were reportedly attacked and abducted civilians in Congo and Sudan. These reports have not been independently verified and other sources say the attackers were not LRA.

Uganda is currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security, a move that gave the tiny nation an opportunity to bring to the table, the case against the LRA. The Ugandan government has heavily lobbied the American and British governments for more arms and military funding to help them fight what they now term “terrorism” threats by the LRA. This new “terrorism” term came along as a catchword to attrack the attention of former US president George Bush Jr.’s administration that funded many countries militarily in the name of fighting “terror.”

In the case of northern Uganda however, locals know that both the LRA and the Ugandan army have terrorized them and pointing one finger at the LRA and ignoring the havocs and terror caused by the Ugandan army leaves a lot to be desired. At best, this is not only a disservice but also an insult to the people of northern Uganda. The military support and funding given to the Ugandan government is either squandered through corruption in the army or is used to abuse the rights of local people in the war-ravaged north. It means nothing to the welfare, security or safety of the locals.

The move by the UN to reignite the northern war by launching military offensives against the LRA is in itself, illegal and is against UN’s own chatter of peaceful resolution to national and international conflicts. It puts the world body into a compromising position in which it is endorsing a sitting government’s ideals against the principles that made the UN what it has always been known for.

The Ugandan government has lobbied and continues to call for a military solution even if they know for sure that they have failed to end the war militarily since it started. Some members and leadership of the Ugandan government and military have suggested it is because of military force that the LRA declared a ceasefire and called for a dialogue. But this is not true.

The Uganda army and government have used the over two decades war in northern Uganda as piggy bank to sustain its military which is used to abuse the rights of Ugandan citizens and those of neighboring countries like Congo and Sudan. Every time the government runs broke to pay for its armies, it creates a chaotic military situation that can be used to appeal to American and European governments to give them money. This trickery to get free money from Western governments must stop.

It is cheaper and safer to bring peace to northern Uganda than use military force. This is already being seen in the prevailing peace Ugandans are enjoying in northern Uganda currently. Anyone agitating for war and military means to end this decades long war should be condemned, criticized and exposed as the enemy of peace and of the people of northern Uganda.
Some nonprofit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also engaged themselves lobbying and calling for military offensives again the LRA. I am not sure since when an NGO has been allowed to lobby for war. The ones that are doing so should also be exposed and have their operating licenses around the world withdrawn. Those organizations based in the US and are lobbying for a military offensive against the LRA should look carefully at the nonprofit status because it is very clear that non of them has been approved by the US government to advocate for war around the world.

Some of these nonprofit organizations have developed an amoebic indistinguishable relationship with the current Ugandan government in which their position on the war is also indistinguishable from those of the Ugandan government. It is this kind of position that brings a bias view to the US lawmakers and policy makers who end up making their policy decisions based on propagandas.

The recent case of invasion of rebel camps in Garamba in which the US government and the UN were hoodwinked and fooled by the Ugandan government to fund and support the invasion of the Congo is a good example. That invasion was an abysmal failure by the Ugandan, the US and the UN that designed and supported it. The amount of money wasted on it could have helped build roads; schools and other much needed infrastructures in northern Uganda.

Sectary Mr. Ban Ki-Moon himself should be ashamed to put his respected standing in world affairs stooping so low advocating for war that all his predecessors avoided. It is ironical that the Secretary General who himself comes from South Korea, a country that has avoided military confrontation with its Northern cousins would come around and advocate for war in another country. This is a disgrace to the respected international body, the UN.

The door to a peaceful end of the war in northern Uganda should not be blocked especially at this time when people have tasted the sweetness of peace in the last two years. It should be used to encourage the remaining LRA rebels to peacefully end the war and join fellow Ugandans in the country to help rebuild the war ravaged region.

We should not be deceived by the short-lived peace and make us into the thinking that the war is over. Every now and then, the LRA have come and disappeared just to come back with avenge. The 1995 Atiak massacres of about 300 people still remains a fresh reminder when people thought the LRA were all gone, they were wrong. We have not seen a collection of dead bodies of the LRA rebels anywhere and this in itself should tell us all that they are still there incubating.

The closure of the door to peaceful resolution to the war is therefore uncalled for and those propagating it should be condemned. The peace talks and peace process should continue until a mutual understanding is reached between the warring parties. Even the signing of the peace documents should not be a one-sided expectation. The Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has not signed the documents either and why should the LRA?

Let us not kill the truth and deny the victims of the war peace. If we do so, we shall live be to be blamed. Let us try to do the right thing at least for once. The UN, American and British governments should stop taking sides in this conflict and instead work with both sides of the warring parties to find a peaceful resolution of the war.

The writer is a freelance writer and maybe reached via email at peterotika@hotmail.com

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