Friday, March 20, 2009

Intrigue, lies and more

In a document recently circulated, the former spokesman for the Lord's Resistance Army peace team reveals the web of intrigue and lies behind the rebel group's failed peace talks with Uganda.

Written by Obonyo Olweny, a writer and teacher based in Nairobi, and dated Feb. 20 of this year, the analysis describes why the two-plus years of talks failed and what might be done to restart them and bring Kony to the peace table.

What Olweny proposes is certainly a long-shot, especially since he says that the reasons Kony won't sign the painstakingly negotiated deal, which he did three times last year -- is that he doesn't want to stand trial in either The Hague or Uganda, believing that doing so would be an admission of guilt.

So what does Kony want? Does he want to be absolved of any guilt and live in a Kampala mansion, surrounded by a bevy of his abducted "child-brides?" Hmmm. It's not a far leap to ascertain this man's broken psyche.

Fortunately, Olweny lays some blame squarely at Kony's feet:

"Kony and his fellow military commanders in the LRA failed to understand and appreciate peace talks as part of a complex political process. This caused him to miss out on this so far best opportunity to take advantage of the situation to end the war.

Olweny goes on:

"Twenty years in the bush with little contact with a changing and modernizing outside world was a long time. While they honed and perfected their war strategies and tactics that won them battles, built a fearsome reputation and ensured their continued survival even against a combination of national armies, the LRA leaders lacked the diplomatic and political preparedness necessary to navigate through peace talks with a leader as wily as (Uganda President Yoweri) Museveni.

"Kony thus failed to take advantage of the Juba peace talks to improve his standing not only in the communities in northern Uganda, but also nationally. This lack of understanding on Kony’s side made it easy for their opponent at the negotiating table to manipulate and outmaneuver them."

And outmaneuver them, Museveni certainly did. According to Olweny, the LRA peace delegation was riddled with spies and plants by Museveni and packed with people whose only motivation was their own self-enrichment.

Olweny writes:

"From the very start of the peace talks, the LRA delegation was riddled with government operatives. Some had served in the state security apparatus; others were ruling NRM party functionaries. As soon as the media published the list of the first delegation, an official of the Ugandan High Commission in Nairobi boasted that they had their men in there. The LRA military leadership was informed about this but chose to ignore it to the detriment of the peace talks."

But this is just the beginning. As I and others have written, the latest so-called leader of the dubious LRA peace team, David Mastanga, was suspect from the start. Olweny continues:

"The entry of David Nyekorach Matsanga from London into the LRA delegation in April 2007 and his eventual takeover of the delegation leadership was a disaster for not only the LRA but the peace process as a whole."

Matsanga as chief mole

"By planting their own man to lead the LRA delegation, the government had pulled off the highest form of covert operation in peace talks negotiation. Some of those who knew him in London believe that Matsanga is an operative of Uganda’s External Security Organization (ESO) and one of the foreign intelligence services.

"It is further believed that he was brought in with the mission to steer the peace talks in the direction desired by the Uganda government: to have a watered down peace agreement and deliver Kony and fellow commanders apprehended for the ICC.

"That explains why during the last round of negotiations in February 2008, he rushed to sign three critical agendas in a span of less than two weeks without any consultation with Kony.

"Far from representing the interest of the LRA fighters in the bush and the suffering displaced people in northern Uganda, Matsanga has secretly visited Kampala several times, and not once the IDP camps.

"Forget about his occasional tongue bashing of Museveni over the radio and television designed to hoodwink the gullible international public, Matsanga was in effect the government’s hatchet man at the talks.

"As he shuttled between Nairobi, Kampala, Garamba, Juba and London, Matsanga’s primary objective was to hijack, derail and destroy the Juba Peace Talks. The result of his work is there for all to see: a disintegrated/factionalised LRA delegation, a rushed Final Peace Agreement (FPA), four times refusal of Joseph Kony to sign the FPA, and the disastrous UPDF attack in Garamba."

Olweny also explains how the LRA was so easily compromised:

"There were delegates whose principal interests were simply the allowances and perks that came with the position, rather than identifying with and arguing strongly the case for the displaced and suffering people back at home as much as for the LRA.

"Some of those who lacked confidence in themselves feared being overshadowed by those who were more articulate and focused. One delegate even said that this was the opportunity to ‘eat’ (i.e. make as much financial/material gains as possible) since the talks would go nowhere.

"With members who were more interested in personal gains and gratification than meeting the difficult challenges of peace talks, it was easy for the government of Uganda and other agencies to compromise them."

That subversion reached to the highest levels of the LRA as Olweny confirms the rumored secret meeting that took place with the LRA in Mombasa.

The Mombasa deception

"A secret meeting in Mombasa from March 31 to April 6, 2007 between a select 5-man group of delegates led by its chairman Martin Ojul and a 4-man Uganda government delegation led by General Salim Saleh, then Minister of State for Micro-finance and Dr. Sam Kagoda, Permanent Secretary Internal Affairs and a key member of the government delegation in Juba, was a strong case of corruption and underhand negotiating tactics [Pax Christi statement, 11 April 2007].

"Other LRA delegates, some of who were in Nairobi at the time, had not only been excluded but were purposefully kept in the dark altogether. This division reflected a rift between the top military commanders. While Vincent Otti sanctioned the meeting, Joseph Kony appeared to have been unaware of it."

As a result of this meeting, Otti was eventually killed by Kony.

So what's next? While Olweny reveals some interesting details and backgroud, it does little to suggest a way forward that will bring about justice for the people of northern Uganda.

He calls for serious talks that address the so-called legitimate grievances of northern Uganda, specifically the "marginalized" Acholi. But he fails to recognize that these same Acholi were the primary victims of Kony's atrocities, and that Kony's alleged political agenda does not exist.

Kony is leading a cult of killers. Nothing more.

This is grossly clear given the fact that Kony has killed nearly 1,000 people in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo who had NOTHING to do with Uganda, the war, or anything related to the LRA.

To blame this killing on Uganda's attack on Kony last December is absurd and demented as Kony himself.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Your article is very indepth, and shed some light on the current situation in Uganda, that is usually difficult to get a hold of in the U.S. Thank you.

There's an event in Santa Monica, on April 25th, called "The Rescue." Invisible Children is putting it on, and I am sure you are aware of their involvement in Northern Uganda. It would be amazing if you could come.

If you would like some more information on it, please check out the website.

Thanks