US To Boost Role In Uganda Talks

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[Africa News Update]


The United States has decided to take on a more direct and robust role in the on-going peace talks to end 20 years of war in Uganda between the government and Lord's Resistance Army rebels, The Black Star News has learned.


Viewing the escalating conflict in Kenya, the collapse of US policy in Somalia and on-going bloodshed in eastern Congo, the US has warned Kampala not to open any new conflict frontlines for fear of sparking another humanitarian crisis, this newspaper has learned. In recent weeks the Uganda government had threatened hostilities unless the LRA concluded a peace deal by January 31.


“Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, has asked her Senior Advisor for Conflict Resolution, Tim Shortley, to be present in Juba on January 30 to work with the mediator and parties on moving the peace process forward,” said Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, in a statement today.


“The United States supports the peace talks, and maintains that the process cannot be open-ended. We urge the parties to work expeditiously on an agreement mechanism on accountability and reconciliation. The United States will work with the Government of Uganda and the international community to provide robust support for reconstruction and recovery efforts in Northern Uganda,” he said.

A Call to the State Department for additional comments was referred to the United States embassy in Kampala.


The talks between the Uganda government and the LRA have been on-and-off under chief mediator Dr. Riek Machar since its inception in June 2006, to find a solution to an end of the two decades- long insurgency which has left nearly two million people in northern Uganda confined into abysmal concentration camps. The WHO in 2005 estimated that as many as 52,000 people die annually in these camps.


Critics had earlier envisaged that the talks would collapse after the announcement of the death of the former rebel second in command Vincent Otti who was instrumental in the peace process.

Frazer is in Addis Ababa where the African Union (AU) is holding its meeting. She will try to recruit more African countries to send peace keepers to Somalia to shore up the government installed last year after the U.S.-approved Ethiopian invasion. African leaders, except Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, have shunned the U.S. request, not wanting to be seen as stooges for U.S. militarization policy in Africa. Thousands of Somalis have been killed or displaced as a result of the Ethiopian occupation.


Investigative news reporter Miwambo is The Black Star News's European correspondent.

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