According to the organization ‘Witness for Peace’, Northern Uganda has been at war for 20 years. Over the past few days Uganda’s government has rejected a key rebel demand that it try to get war crimes indictments lifted against three Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leaders. Two decades of armed conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government in the Northern Uganda, has caused some nearly two million civilians to be displaced from their homes. Ordered into so-called protected camps, Internally Displaced Persons face heightened insecurity, appalling living conditions and the lack the means of subsistence. While the LRA have been perpetrators of these crimes, the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces, the national army, has also committed human rights violations against civilians that include arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, torture and rape. The UPDF whose mandate is to protect civilians, has not only failed to prevent attacks and abductions by the LRA, but has also perpetrated grave abuses against civilians in a climate of impunity. Last September, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 573 on Northern Uganda. In addition to broader humanitarian and human rights issues, this resolution addresses the lack of accountability and impunity within the Ugandan military. Today we learned that the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army signed an extension to a ceasefire paving the way to an expected final peace deal after decades of fighting. A reporter from the French news agency AFP witnessed the signing ceremony in Juba where negotiators for the Ugandan government and LRA have been holding peace talks since 2006.
GUEST: Betty Bigombeis a former Ugandan Minister of State and has been the chief peace negotiator between the government of Uganda and the LRA. She is now the Africa Program Distinguished African Scholar at the Wilson Center. Ms. Bigombe is also a Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace; Formerly served as Ugandan, Deputy Minister and Project Manager for the African Development Bank.
There is an article in the February issue of New African magazine, the headline reads…DIVIDE AND RULE: How Africans and African Americans are prevented from working together. The author of the article contends that the Carter Administration in1978 recommended that the CIA set up a program to interfere with African and African American organizations that seek to work together. But that was 1978. Did the plan work? Is there some great government conspiracy to keep those of us born on the continent and those of born in the U.S. apart? Or are there issues we must resolve between us in order to unite against the common demons that destroy our culture, politics and lives?
GUEST: Mwiza Munthali is the Director of Public Outreach at TransAfrica. He was born in Malawi but has lived in the US for many years and deals everyday with Africans and African Americans in the struggle to maintain unity. Netfa Freeman is the Director of SALSA, Social Action and Leadership School for Activists at the Institute for Policy Studies. He too works every day with Africans from throughout the Diaspora seeking ways to unite the groups.