Uganda Suffers Tyranny Of Museveni And Kony

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Yoweri Museveni has confirmed that the overwhelming skepticism about his true motives during the course of negotiations to end the Uganda genocide were well-placed and well-deserved.

Uganda's Army announced yesterday a military offensive against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), officially bringing an end to a shaky détente which had existed since the two marauding forces launched "peace talks" over two years ago. The two sides have battled for over 22 years.

The losers yesterday, once again, were civilians in Uganda. Although the conflict is currently confined to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba region, the LRA’s new redoubt, it may eventually find its way back to northern Uganda; the epicenter of suffering produced by Museveni’s and Kony’s armies.

Even though yesterday marked the official end of negotiations, the "peace talks" never had a realistic chance to succeed. It turns out that Museveni had always seen the negotiations as a ploy to lure his nemesis Kony from his hideout, and deal him the same fate he had handed to other armed opponents; six feet under.

This cynical ploy was made clear and exposed by Jan Egeland, the former United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, in his book, "A Billion Lives: An Eye Witness Report From The Frontlines Of Humanity," (Simon & Schuster, 2008), which was first reviewed in this newspaper on May 10, 2008.

In the book, Egeland recalled that in a November 2006 meeting, when he was pushing for the Uganda government to seriously commit to pursuing negotiations with the LRA, Museveni had berated him and scoffed at negotiating with the rebels; Egeland had just returned from a meeting with Kony and other LRA commanders in the bush.

"You were just wasting your time in the bush with them. I told you so," Museveni had said, according to Egeland, who wrote that he’d responded, "No, I think it was useful to meet them," and that he had also told Museveni, "It was good for peace and therefore to your benefit."

Egeland's observations had brought the following retort from Museveni: "No, those talks were not to our benefit," and "Let me be categorical--there will only be a military solution to this problem."

The remarkable and incriminating exchange occurred November 12, 2006, which was four months after the Juba Peace Talks had been launched; with Riek Machar, vice president of Southern Sudan, as the mediator, and Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda's internal affairs minister as Museveni’s top negotiator.

Now to clear the way for the offensive he had always wanted, Museveni recently removed Rugunda's portfolio and packed the minister, who is reputed to be an honorable man serving a dishonorable despot, off to become Uganda's ambassador to the United Nations.

Moreover, in addition to Congo's army, reportedly the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), to which Machar, the supposed "mediator" belongs, has teamed with Uganda on the offensive.

So, who could blame Kony for his skepticism? He had seen how the International Criminal Court had acted in a one-sided and blatantly biased manner; the ICC had, correctly, indicted Kony and the LRA’s leadership. Yet, the ICC has so far spared his co-criminal, Museveni, and his top commanders--not only for their own role in Uganda’s genocide but also for the genocide in eastern Congo.

As if the ignominy wasn't enough, Uganda has now been rewarded with a seat on the United Nations Security Council; if you were in Kony's shoes, would you come out from the bush? You might want to take your chances there.

Yet, surprises sometimes do occur.

Few once imagined that a former president, Liberia's Charles Taylor, would one day be indicted for war crimes; or that a sitting president, Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir would be brought up on charges of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

So there is still some hope for humanity. A war-mongering regime is leaving office in Washington and possibilities could arise. 

If the ICC and the international community want the peace talks to become meaningful, either the indictment of Kony must be suspended; barring that, at the very least, Museveni and his key commanders, must also be indicted. Would it not be a brilliant, honorable and fitting move if Rugunda, once he’d assumed Uganda’s Security Council post, introduced a motion to have Museveni indicted?

If he were to be indicted, then both Museveni and Kony would negotiate in earnest; they would have no choice but to strike a comprehensive deal and both pray that Ugandans won’t one day deliver them to the ICC at the Hague.

For now Kony believes the only way to avoid a life sentence at an ICC trial is to remain in the bush; similarly, Museveni believes that he can escape justice by maintaining his dictatorship on Uganda.

Should there be a way to revive negotiations, Egeland, as we observed in our May review, would be an excellent mediator; he is now Director General of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, in Oslo.

Machar is thoroughly discredited.

Ugandans aspire to, and deserve better lives than the miserable tyranny imposed by Museveni and Kony.


Editor's Note: Please call the International Criminal Court at the Hague 31 705 15 8515 if you believe Museveni should also be indicted and let Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo know your view.


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