From left to right, at a recent ENOUGH event on northern Uganda: John Prendergast, ENOUGH; Ryan Gosling, Actor; Melissa Fitzgerald, Voices of Uganda; Carolyn Sams, Invisible Children; Sen. Barbara Boxer; Max Wilson, Enough; Laren Poole, Invisible Children; Michael Poffenberger, Resolve Uganda; Ben McKenzie, Actor
Although war clouds remain on the horizon, the cessation of hostilities agreement between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army that resulted from the Juba peace process now has largely held for 10 months. But the relative progress is fragile, as small LRA units could re-infiltrate northern Uganda and conduct ambushes, abduct kids, or burn a camp, and the fear and paranoia generated by such attacks could undermine any chance for peace. Indeed, there have been scattered LRA attacks in the last couple months in northern Uganda, and LRA attacks and abductions continue in southern Sudan.
Therefore, what is urgently required is a major international push to end what may be the least complicated war in the world to resolve. The importance of a solution cannot be overstated. In addition to allowing one and a half million Ugandans to return to their homes, it also will greatly increase the prospects of implementation of the north-south peace deal in Sudan, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The LRA constitute a serious threat to southern Sudan’s stability, and until neutralized it will continue to be a tool the Khartoum regime could use to undermine the south before the elections and independence referendum.
As always with Africa, the only missing ingredient is political will.
There is an unprecedented opportunity now to build on the positive momentum generated by United Nations Envoy and former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano’s mid-April brokering of a return to the Juba peace talks and extension of the cessation of hostilities agreement with additional monitoring. Urgent efforts are required by the Ugandan government and the international community to construct an overall peace strategy that has a chance to end this recurring nightmare once and for all.
Such a strategy involves a combination of the following four ingredients:
- reforming the Juba process and supporting its cessation of hostilities;
- facilitating parallel direct contacts between President Yoweri Museveni and LRA leader Joseph Kony aimed at brokering a security deal for the LRA leadership;
- preparing for a wider process that would follow the security deal that would address the political, economic, and social concerns of northern Ugandans; and
- increasing leverage from the international community through the application of carrots and sticks in support of a solution.
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