Posts Tagged ‘uganda’

The Extinction Protocol

November 1, 2012UGANDAAs of the end of October, 18 cases and nine deaths have been reported as a result of Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreak, according to WHO. The outbreak began in mid-October, and cases have been reported from five districts in southwestern Uganda, Kampala, Ibanda, Mbarara and Kabarole, with a case fatality rate of 50%. Blood samples from nine patients have been confirmed for Marburg virus at the Uganda Virus Research Institute. Currently, 13 patients have been admitted to the hospital, and their contacts are listed for daily follow-up. The latest confirmed case was admitted to an Ibanda district isolation ward on Oct. 26. The WHO and international partners, including the CDC, the Uganda Red Cross, African Field Epidemiology Network and Médecins-Sans-Frontières, are supporting the national authorities in outbreak investigation and response. The national task force has identified additional health care workers and epidemiologists to strengthen…

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When this decade started in 2001, Museveni had been in power for 15 years. As it ends, he is the only regional leader still in office who was in when it started. The events that ensured that climaxed at 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday July 12, 2005.

At that moment Uganda’s parliament was involved in what historians like to call a defining moment. It marked the end of an arduous process to amend Article 105 (2) of the constitution to remove presidential term limits.

On that day, Jacob Oulanya, the burly man with a penchant for wearing sharp suits complete with pocket handkerchief and bowtie and whose thick moustache appears to block out his nose whenever he speaks, broke his silence. The amendment, he said, had been coached not to dwell on the principle behind term limits. Rather the arguments had “zeroed down on those who like President Museveni and those who hate him.” Oulanya was at the time the MP of Moro County in Gulu district and chairman of the Legal Committee of parliament which scrutinised the amendment.

The removal of term limits on the presidency marked the maturation of political corruption. Efforts by prominent Museveni ministers against the third term campaign did not change Museveni’s determination to have article 105 of the 1995 constitution repealed. Instead, ministers Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, Eriya Kategaya and Miria Matembe were dropped from cabinet. In the end, Shs 5 million was paid to each of 222 MPs to let Museveni have his way. Only 37 MPs voted against the bill and two abstained. Did the MPs realise that his personalisation of a momentous question of principle marked the defining political moment of the last decade?

Sometimes to understand such an unfathomable question one needs an anchor in something less speculative.

In my case, it was an article by BBC Washington Correspondent Steve Kingstone on October 2, 2010 that spurred the thought. It was titled `How President Lula changed Brazil’ and it started with the paragraph: “I used to tell visitors to close their eyes as I drove them into Sao Paulo from the airport. That was seven years ago, when the first impression of South America’s biggest city was a pot-holed motorway running parallel to a stinking river…”

Does that sound familiar? Possibly yes.

At the heart of the debate was whether President Museveni could ever democratically relinquish power.

The events of July 12, 2005 have become even more poignant as the decade ends. They make 2005 the defining year of the decade. In that year, Uganda’s founding President Milton Obote died, and leading opposition politician, Rt. Col. Dr Kizza Besigye was arrested on a trumped-up rape case, Uganda ditched the Movement system for multiparty politics, and a military commando squad known as Black Mamba besieged the High Court in a flagrant re-arrest of treason suspects that had been granted bail.

Those events are comparable regionally, only to the fallout from the death in a mysterious helicopter crash of the legendary leader of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), Col. John Garanga, and the deployment of Ugandan army troops in Somalia.

They eclipse even Museveni’s election victories in 2001 and 2006, the government of Uganda peace talks with the LRA in Juba in 2006, the 2007 Kampala Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and its entrenching of corruption, the 2009 Buganda riots, and the 2010 signing of the East African Community Common Market Protocol.

Yet some of the events, like the rift between Buganda kingdom and the central government, corruption and conduct of the February 18, 2011 general elections are already impacting on the new decade.

The Brazil story has a happy ending. Kingstone was there to cover the election in which, in November 2010, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva passed on the baton to his anointed successor, Dilma Rousseff. In power for only eight years, Lula cleared the pot-holed motorways, pushed 29 million Brazilians into the middle class, created 2.5 million jobs in 2010 alone, eradicated hunger, improved education and health and transformed Brazil from a borrower from the IMF to a lender. On December 16, he proudly presented a review of his eight year in power to his cabinet in six volumes and is leaving office when over 80 percent of Brazilians approve of his work.

Walking along the Upper Kololo Terrace, just after the swanky Protea Hotel in the high end section of Kampala city, one easily notices a new row of bulletin billboards exhorting passersby to vote for Museveni in the Feb. 18 presidential elections.

They are professionally erected low at car windshield level to catch the driver’s eye and with just a few words. Next to them on the same road, in the section just above Kololo Airstrip, venue of national celebrations is another row of neat bulletin billboards. These ones are for MTN Uganda, a subsidiary of the South African telecom giant. The placement is possibly coincidental but very apt: Museveni’s brand colour, like MTN’s, is yellow. Going forward, it appears the fate of the most important engine of his success, big business, will become more intertwined with the fortunes of the most powerful person in Uganda, Museveni.

The decade started well enough for Museveni.

In March 2001, he trounced a pack of five to emerge with 69 percent of the vote in the presidential elections. Optimism was high. He had promised it was his last term and most voters looked forward to a peaceful transition with a new face at the top in 2006. It did not happen. Museveni clang on and as the decade ends, it makes more sense to assess what the future will be like under him than speculate on when he will quit.

Meanwhile, corruption has grown exponentially. When the decade began the biggest scandal was the Shs 11 billion purchase of four junk Mi-24 helicopters by the UPDF that was before the Justice Sebutinde Commission of Inquiry in 2001. This was followed closely by a similar probe in the Uganda Revenue Authority in 2002.

However, the money involved is laughable compared to what is being swindled today. As the decade ends, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament chaired by MP Nandala Mafabi has just completed a probe into the squandering of Shs 500 billion meant for hosting of CHOGM. Two years ago, there was the case of Amama Mbabazi allegedly influencing NSSF to buy his 400 acre land in Temangalo at Shs 11 billion.

And the impunity has burgeoned. Just as only Emma Katto, the fixer, was the fall guy in the Sebutinde junk helicopters inquiry and just as Sebutinde’s report on URA was quashed by court as her fellow commissioners, Fawn Cousens and James Kahooza, disowned it, PAC’s CHOGM report was defeated on a technicality in parliament and Mbabazi walked scot-free from the Temangalo scandal.

Many people close to Museveni are tainted. The British jailed and deported Museveni’s aide; Ananias Tumukunde for stealing Shs 117 million from the government of Uganda in inflated procurement bills. On December 9, 2009 the British handed a cheque for the amount to the IGG at a public function in Kampala. But Museveni kept Tumukunde.

As the decade ends, a WikiLeak of US diplomatic cables reveals that the US Ambassador in Kampala, Jerry Lanier wrote that two ministers, Hilary Onek and Amama Mbabazi took bribes from an oil company in what could mark the first cases of the so-called `oil curse’.

As the decade ends, oil might not be the only big business that Ugandans are to watch with trepidation.

Uganda’s biggest telecom company is losing market share in a volatile market. Its market share is down to an unconfirmed 60 percent due to competition from new entrants and its Average Revenue per User (ARPU) is the lowest in the region at US$ 5. As a result, the only good news at the MTN Towers is the 5 percent increase in subscribers to 6,215,000 by Q3 of 2010.

This gloom is in sharp contrast to the excitement at MTN at the start of the decade. The year 2001 was the second that MTN Uganda, which had been in operation for two years, made a profit. At the time, it had about 150,000 subscribers and controlled over 75 percent of the mobile phone market and 60 percent of the whole telecom market. Thomas Bragaw was the MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer at the start of the decade. Just three months before the New Year, he had a launched the first ever fibre optic cable in Africa. It linked Kampala City’s business district and industrial area.

But big business could suffer more as big money believed to be ill-gotten has been discovered in government official’s homes instead of banks. Damian Akankwasa, a National Forestry Authority managing director had Shs900 million in his house and another Shs500 million was found in the family of Museveni’s brother, Salim Saleh.

Regionally, on July 11, 2010 Kampala witnessed twin bomb attacks that left at least 76 people dead and scores injured. The Somali-based al-Shabaab claimed responsibility arguing that it was punishment for Uganda’s involvement in the affairs of their country Somalia. As the decade ends, the referendum in Southern Sudan promises self-determination for John Garang’s people. But there is apprehension that it could ignite another regional conflict.

The 20 year-long war of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army is quiet but not quashed. The butcher of the north is somewhere in the jungles of Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Southern Sudan. Can he return to haunt the north? Some say, possibly not.

As reported By Mubatsi Asinja Habati – THE INDEPENDENT

Ugandan police arrest opposition leader – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

Ugandan police have arrested opposition leader Kizza Besigye ahead of a planned protest over spiralling food and fuel prices in the capital Kampala.

A senior official from Besigye’s party , the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), said he was arrested on Monday as he prepared to go to work.

“Besigye was arrested as he left his house this morning and is being held in Kasangati” police station on the outskirts of Kampala, said Alice Alaso, the secretary general of the FDC.

Besigye, who came a distant second in the February 18 election that was won by Yoweri Museveni, the president, had threatened to stage Egypt-style protests if the election was rigged, but stopped short of staging a protest though he dismissed the vote as fraudulent.

On April 11 Besigye was arrested, along with several opposition politicians, for taking part in a march dubbed “walk to work” where marchers refuse to use their cars and walk to work as a protest against high fuel prices.

Al Jazeera’s Malcom Webb in Kampala said the high prices are an opportunity for the opposition to get people on the streets.

“People are unhappy; people are restless,” he said.

Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba confirmed the arrest and said it was in connection with the planned demonstration.

Besigye, 54, walked to church unobstructed on Sunday but his “walk to work” campaign has been roundly blocked.

Museveni has warned he will deal firmly with any unauthorised demonstrations and mocked Besigye in a press conference on Saturday.

“We made it clear to Besigye that you are not going to demonstrate or to walk. If you want to walk, go somewhere and take a walk,” Museveni said.

Ugandan police on Thursday clashed with protesters in Kampala and several other towns as Besigye appeared bent on opposing the regime.

Protesters say steep prices are due to bad governance, but Museveni, who has ruled the east African country for a quarter of a century, insisted drought and foreign factors were to blame.

“Food prices have gone up because of unreliable rain and the bigger market in the region. Will the world prices go down because Besigye has demonstrated?” he said.

The consumer price index grew by four per cent in March from the previous month and the country’s year-on-year inflation rate stands at 11.1 per cent.

Museveni argued that Besigye’s opposition campaign risked destabilising the economy further and urged Ugandans to act responsibly and use fuel sparingly

With Christmas fast approaching, i just wanted to remind everyone of the Child Headed Household that i help to support through Joy for Children Uganda.

I have opened this STORE to enable me to sell items i create to help me cover the costs of the sponsorship $157US a month, 100% of the profits made on these items are sent directly to Joy for Children and then used to pay for their education, food, kerosene (no elec), clothing, blankets, medical expenses and more.  I currently pay this by my own finances and as a lower income family with 3 children of our own to support we sometimes struggle to make the full amount to send.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could purchase 1 item from our store and help us to help support 5 Children ranging from 8mths to 17yrs in Uganda to have a better life and some hope for the future.

VISIT OUR STORE HERE.

It’s yet again coming up to Christmas time and there are over 1 billion people in the world starving this Christmas. Why not use your money for good and change and sponsor a child for someone you love for christmas this year, or even for yourself!

A most rewarding way to spend $25 – $50 dollars a month is to help those who are the innocents in all this chaos in the world….the children.

JOY FOR CHILDREN UGANDA is a great NGO whom are locally run in Uganda and you can sponsor a child direct through them (please note, this is NOT tax deductable for Australian Citizens)

COMPASSION AUSTRALIA is another great Australian Based NGO who sponsor children. Your money actually gets to the child you sponsor and not the whole community.

If you do anything this Christmas “Just for the sake of it” – Sponsor a Child and the gift of love you will receive is priceless.

-Freeuganda

My Sponsored Children – Please check this page out and visit our Store. 100% of the profits from the sale of these items are sent directly to Uganda for support on the Sponsorship of a Child Headed Household. Please consider purchasing a gift from our store and help us support this wonderful family of children. (NB: Betty is a budding scientist and has dreams to make it big and attend University. Please help by purchasing our products or contact us if you wish to donate)

From Right: Norman (baby), Betty, Isaac, Naume and Peter.

I’d like to just let you all know that we have a great selection of Invisible Children T-Shirts and DVD’s and Journals available here in Australia. Whilst our Aussie Dollar is high against the US we are reflecting our prices to match the US Prices. SOOOOO for the next 2 weeks (possibly longer as long as the $$ stays high) we will keep the price accordingly!

TO PURCHASE THESE ITEMS FROM AUSTRALIA IC SIMPLY EMAIL US

Rough Cut DVD is $20
Go DVD is $15
Bracelet Dvd’s are $20
The Rescue DVD is $20
2010 Organic Logo Tee is $25 – 100% Grown & Sewn in Uganda!
Standard Logo Tee is $20
I “Heart” LRA – Rescue Event Tee is $20
AK-47 Rescue Event Tee is $20 (1 only left in Australia)
Legacy Journal (with Rescue DVD) $10


To Check out what these items are Visit INVISIBLE CHILDREN US Store

Bracelet and Journal by: Invisible Children

All pictures are copyrighted to Invisible Children

HARDA (Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency) is holding our Family Wellbeing Day this Saturday, October 30th at Auburn Park, Macquarie Rd, Auburn NSW from 10am to 3pm.

Building Resilience – Good Friends help us bounce back!

There will be Jumping Castle, Animal Farm, DJ Prince 2000, Celebrity Soccer Player, Novelty Races, Halal BBQ, Drumming Workshops, Hip Hop Workshop, Information Stalls and Much More!

All are welcome to this FREE Event. for more information visit HARDA Website or call 02 8762 4225 or email harda@harda.org.au

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency said Friday it was alarmed at reports of a dramatic rise in the frequency and brutality of attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Between March 20 and May 6 this year, there were at least 10 LRA raids on villages in southern CAR’s Haut-Mbomou province. Thirty-six people were killed, houses were burned and 10,000 people were uprooted, including 411 who fled across the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The newly displaced are concentrated in the towns of Bangassou, Rafai, Zemio and Mboki.

In the eastern DRC, the latest large-scale LRA attack is reported to have occurred between February 22-26 at Kpanga in Bas-Uele district of Orientale province. The LRA is reported to have killed up to 100 people, including children. This is an area that has repeatedly suffered from LRA violence.

In Sudan, LRA attacks have centred on the Central and Western Equatoria regions, bordering Uganda, DRC and the Central African Republic. Since August 2009, the LRA has carried out renewed incursions, which have forced the relocation of refugees and the displacement of the local population as well as seriously disrupting the movement of humanitarian assistance.

On April 6, the rebel group raided the Ezo Napere refugee settlement in Western Equatoria, killing a male refugee and injuring another. The attack was repulsed by the South Sudan police force.

Roving bands of LRA fighters often prey on villages in remote areas. As a result, some of the group’s atrocities remain unknown for long periods.

The epicentre of LRA atrocities is in the two districts of Haut-Uele and Bas-Uele in Orientale province, where, since December 2008, it has killed more than 1,800 people, abducted some 2,500 and displaced 280,000 people. It has also forced nearly 20,000 Congolese to seek refuge in Sudan and the CAR.

In Sudan, the LRA is said to have caused the deaths of some 2,500 people and forcibly displaced another 87,800, mostly in Central and Western Equatoria.

The LRA sprung up in Uganda in 1986, established its first base in Sudan in 1993 and spread to the DRC in 2005, before moving further north into the Central African Republic in 2009.

In the CAR, the UN Taskforce on IDPs [internally displaced people], of which UNHCR is a member, is making arrangements to deliver aid to the newly displaced in Haute-Mbomou province as quickly as possible. An assessment mission will travel to Zemio this weekend to asses the needs of the internally displaced and refugees.

By Yusuf Hassan in Nairobi, Kenya

via UNHCR – Thousands flee, many killed as Lord’s Resistance Army steps up attacks.

For two decades in northern Uganda, a cult-like rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) waged war against the government and local Acholi people, launching horrific attacks on villages, towns and camps for the internally displaced.

At the height of the conflict, the United Nations called northern Uganda one of the world’s most neglected humanitarian crises. Some 2 million people – about 90 percent of Acholiland – were uprooted from their homes and tens of thousands were killed or mutilated.

The LRA kidnapped thousands of children for use as fighters, porters and “wives”. Many were forced to perform terrible atrocities – including killing their families and other children. The rebels were also notorious for slicing off people’s lips, ears and noses or padlocking people’s lips shut.

A Sudanese-brokered ceasefire in August 2006 brought relative peace to northern Uganda. But rebel leader Joseph Kony has repeatedly refused to sign a final peace deal, demanding guarantees that he will not be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which wants to try him for war crimes.

Kony’s rebels have camped out in remote regions of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic since the peace process started.

During the worst of the conflict in northern Uganda many people fled their homes to live in camps. Others were herded into the camps by the Ugandan army during counter-insurgency operations. The makeshift settlements lacked food and clean water and were vulnerable to rebel attacks.

At one time, almost 1,000 people were dying every week from disease, poor living conditions and violence, according to a 2005 survey of internally displaced in Acholiland by Uganda’s health ministry, New York-based aid agency International Rescue Committee and several U.N. agencies.

Improved security since peace talks has allowed about half of the displaced to return to their villages while about a quarter have moved to transit sites near their homes, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre says. But many people, including the elderly, disabled and orphaned, are still stuck in the camps. Despite relative peace, the problems in the north continue to undermine the country’s gains since the bloodshed and economic chaos of the Idi Amin and Milton Obote years.

Northerners ruled Uganda from independence in 1962 until Yoweri Museveni, a rebel leader from the southwest, seized power in 1986. Some critics accused him of prolonging the conflict to subdue political opposition in the north – an allegation he denies.

WHO ARE THE LRA?


Patrick Odong, 13, whose jaw was smashed by a bullet in 2002 as troops battled rebels in his village.<br> REUTERS/Patrick Olum
Patrick Odong, 13, whose jaw was smashed by a bullet in 2002 as troops battled rebels in his village.
REUTERS/Patrick Olum

Museveni’s seizure of power prompted a number of popular uprisings in the north. The LRA emerged in 1992, comprising northern rebel groups and former Obote troops. At its helm was Kony, a former altar boy and self-proclaimed prophet.

Kony, an Acholi himself, turned resentment towards Museveni into an apocalyptic spiritual crusade that has sustained one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. Analysts say that aside from rabid opposition to Museveni, the rebels have showed no clear political goals during their insurgency.

Kony has said he is fighting to defend the Biblical Ten Commandments, although his group has also articulated a range of northern grievances, from the looting of cattle by Museveni’s troops to demands for a greater share of political power. A report by World Vision International says Kony’s spiritualism blends elements of Christianity, Islam and traditional Acholi beliefs to psychologically enslave abducted children and instil fear in local villagers.

In 1994, Sudan began backing the LRA with weapons and training and let it set up camps on Sudanese soil. Sudan was getting back at Uganda for supporting its own southern rebels during its 20-year civil war. It also used the LRA as a proxy to fight against the rebels. Sudan’s civil war came to an end in 2005 with a fragile peace deal. Khartoum says it has ended all support to the LRA. In 2002, Museveni launched a military campaign, “Iron Fist”, aimed at wiping out the LRA for good. Kony’s rebels responded by abducting more children and attacking more civilians. Some 10,000 children were seized in about a year. The number of displaced people shot up.

It was then that the phenomenon of “night commuting” emerged. Every evening tens of thousands of children trudged into towns like Gulu to sleep on the streets, rather than risk being kidnapped from their beds by the rebels. No one knows how many children have been abducted overall but the figure is widely believed to exceed 20,000. In October 2005, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Kony and other top LRA leaders, accusing them of multiple war crimes. Sudan agreed to let Ugandan troops pursue the rebels into its territory.

Within months, the LRA leaders sought refuge in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, rekindling historic tension between Kampala and Kinshasa. Operating from camps in Garamba National Park, in northeastern DRC, the LRA has attacked Congolese villages and towns, killed civilians and abducted children. Rebels have also attacked civilians across the border in Sudan.

HOPES FOR PEACE


A Uganda soldier sits on an amoured vehicle while escorting a U.N. convoy from Lira to Pader district, 2005.<br> REUTERS/ Joseph Akena
A Uganda soldier sits on an amoured vehicle while escorting a U.N. convoy from Lira to Pader district, 2005.
REUTERS/ Joseph Akena

South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar, himself a former rebel in Sudan’s north-south war, began mediating between the LRA and Museveni after meeting Kony in the bush near the Congolese border in May 2006. The LRA declared a unilateral ceasefire in early August and by the end of the month there was a truce in place.

Rebels agreed to gather in two assembly points in southern Sudan while negotiations continued. However, most rebels drifted away from the assembly points and both sides accused each other of breaking their word. A key obstacle in the negotiations is the fact the ICC global war crimes court wants senior rebels handed over for trial. The LRA has vowed never to sign a final peace deal unless Kampala persuades the ICC to drop the case – something analysts say is unlikely.

Talks between the rebels and the government have frequently stalled since 2006. In January 2008, it was confirmed that the LRA’s deputy commander Vincent Otti was dead following rumours he had been killed in late 2007. Numerous LRA deserters have said Kony shot his number two after accusing him of spying for the government. The news raised fears of a wobble in the peace process because Otti, regarded as the brains behind the group in contrast to the volatile Kony, had been a prime mover behind the LRA joining peace talks.

A possible breakthrough came in February 2008, when the Ugandan government and LRA signed a deal stipulating that Kampala would set up special war crimes courts to handle the gravest crimes, while traditional justice known as mato oput would be used for others.

This homegrown solution has the support of the Acholis, who have borne the brunt of the conflict. But Kony has repeatedly failed to show up to sign a final peace deal. With patience wearing thin, Uganda, DRC and southern Sudan began a major offensive against LRA camps in Garamba in December 2008. A U.S. official said Washington had provided equipment and helped plan the operation.

Semi-autonomous southern Sudan said its troops wouldn’t cross into Congo, but it would block any fleeing LRA rebels. The LRA responded by looting local villages, killing hundreds and displacing tens of thousands. Ugandan troops withdrew in March 2009, and the LRA continue to terrorise parts of Central African Republic, DRC and southern Sudan.

GUNS AND DROUGHT PLAGUE KARAMOJA


A Karamojong warrior at an army disarmament operation, 2007. <br>REUTERS/Euan Denholm
A Karamojong warrior at an army disarmament operation, 2007.
REUTERS/Euan Denholm

Karamoja, a semi-arid region in Uganda’s northeast along the border with Kenya, has been affected by banditry and inter-clan warfare for decades. But the drought-prone area has experienced escalating levels of violence in recent years due to an influx of arms and competition over resources. The Karamojong people are a semi-nomadic pastoral tribe who depend on cattle for their livelihood.

Their way of life has been disrupted by disputes over shrinking water supplies and a flood of cheap semi-automatic weapons trafficked from conflicts in the Horn of Africa. The influx of guns has made frequent cattle raids more deadly. The government has attempted to tackle the widespread possession of small arms through a series of disarmament programmes.

In 2006, after persistent raids, revenge killings and warrior ambushes, it began using a more aggressive approach, in which the army has surrounded villages with tanks and helicopter gunships and forcibly searched for weapons. Dozens of civilians have been killed, and cases of torture reported during the forced disarmament campaign. Houses have been burned down and hundreds of civilians have fled the violence. Traditional nomadic movement patterns have also been disrupted. The number of reported incidents fell in 2008, says Human Rights Watch, but violations continue.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) says the government’s disarmament approach does not offer a sustainable solution to Karamoja’s insecurity because of the region’s economic and political marginalisation and limited ways to make a living. Karamoja is one of Uganda’s most impoverished regions, and lacks government services and institutions, including civilian policing. The neglect can be traced back to colonial times, when British administrators largely left Uganda’s northern tribes out of the process of modernisation.

Adding to the woes of poverty and violence, the population has been badly affected by successive years of drought. In May 2009 – during the hunger season – the entire population was experiencing food shortages, said the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. The region suffered a severe famine in the early 1980s, and still has the highest malnutrition rates in the country. Its livestock has been decimated by disease since 2007.

According to World Health Organisation figures, the region has very high child and maternal mortality rates compared with the national average. Rights groups are also concerned about forced evictions. In one case cited by the United Nations, a group of women and children were kicked out of their homes on the grounds that they were providing intelligence information to warriors.

Meanwhile, the government has tried to get hundreds of Karamojong who have migrated to the capital Kampala to return to the northeast. Aid agencies are worried that returns have not been voluntary in some cases, and that the government has failed to provide adequate support.

via Reuters AlertNet – Uganda violence.

* Rights group wants phone network and radio stations

* Says U.N. member countries should send in elite military

* U.N. says has not got enough troops, asked to withdraw

By Katrina Manson

KINSHASA, March 28 (Reuters) – The United Nations must boost peacekeeping forces in areas of Africa where Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels operate to stop massacres such as one that killed more than 300 people in December, a rights group said.

The Ugandan rebel group has killed and abducted people on a regular basis for the last 23 years, from Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch noted in a report.

It said the United Nations has fewer than 1,000 peacekeepers in this vast and and often impenetrable areas where the rebels mount their attacks.

The U.N. says the LRA killed more than 1,200 people in a 10-month period throughout 2008 and 2009, while the rights group puts the death toll in a massacre previously unreported in the remote northeast last December at 321.

“The four-day rampage demonstrates that the LRA remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claim,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher at HRW, said.

HRW also wants the Congolese government to work with mobile phone companies to bring network coverage to the area.

One witness cycled 60 km (40 miles) to find a telephone to inform the U.N. of the massacre, and villages that were subsequently attacked knew nothing of nearby attacks.

via Troops, cash needed to fight Uganda rebels-group | News by Country | Reuters.

(Kampala) – The rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) killed at least 321 civilians and abducted 250 others, including at least 80 children, during a previously unreported four-day rampage in the Makombo area of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2009, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

“The Makombo massacre is one of the worst ever committed by the LRA in its bloody 23-year history, yet it has gone unreported for months,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The four-day rampage demonstrates that the LRA remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claim.”

The 67-page report, “Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo,” is the first detailed documentation of the Makombo massacre and other atrocities by the LRA in Congo in 2009 and early 2010. The report, based on a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to the massacre area in February, documents the brutal killings during the well-planned LRA attack from December 14 to 17 in the remote Makombo area of Haute Uele district.

LRA forces attacked at least 10 villages, capturing, killing, and abducting hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The vast majority of those killed were adult men, whom LRA combatants first tied up and then hacked to death with machetes or crushed their skulls with axes and heavy wooden sticks. The dead include at least 13 women and 23 children, the youngest a 3-year-old girl who was burned to death. LRA combatants tied some of the victims to trees before crushing their skulls with axes.

The LRA also killed those they abducted who walked too slowly or tried to escape. Family members and local authorities later found bodies all along the LRA’s 105-kilometer journey through the Makombo area and the small town of Tapili. Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that for days and weeks after the attack, this vast area was filled with the “stench of death.”

Children and adults who managed to escape provided similar accounts of the group’s extreme brutality. Many of the children captured by the LRA were forced to kill other children who had disobeyed the LRA’s rules. In numerous cases documented by Human Rights Watch, children were ordered to surround the victim in a circle and take turns beating the child on the head with a large wooden stick until the child died.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Congo (MONUC) has some 1,000 peacekeeping troops in the LRA-affected areas of northeastern Congo – far too few to protect the population adequately, given the area’s size. Yet instead of sending more troops, the peacekeeping force, under pressure from the Congolese government to withdraw from the country by July 2011, is considering removing some troops from the northeast by June in the first phase of its drawdown.

“The people of northeastern Congo are in desperate need of more protection, not less,” said Van Woudenberg. “The UN Security Council should stop any drawdown of MONUC peacekeeping troops from areas where the LRA threatens to kill and abduct civilians.”

In mid-April, the Security Council is due to visit Congo to discuss the peacekeeping force’s plans for withdrawal and the protection of civilians.

The Makombo massacre is part of a longstanding history of atrocities and abuse by the LRA in Uganda, southern Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Congo. Pushed out of northern Uganda in 2005, the LRA now operates in the remote border area between southern Sudan, Congo, and CAR. In July 2005, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the senior leaders of the LRA for crimes they committed in northern Uganda, but those indicted remain at large.

The Human Rights Watch research indicated that the Makombo massacre was perpetrated by two LRA commanders – Lt. Col. Binansio Okumu (also known as Binany) and a commander known as Obol. They report to Gen. Dominic Ongwen, a senior LRA leader who is believed to command the LRA’s forces in Congo and who is among those sought by the International Criminal Court. Human Rights Watch urged investigations of these commanders’ alleged participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In December 2008, the governments of the region, led by the Ugandan armed forces, with intelligence and logistical support from the United States, began a military campaign known as Operation Lightning Thunder against the LRA in northeastern Congo. A surprise aerial strike on the main LRA camp failed to neutralize the LRA leadership, which escaped. In retaliation, the LRA attacked villages and towns in northern Congo and southern Sudan, killing more than 865 civilians during the Christmas 2008 holiday season and in the weeks thereafter.

On March 15, 2009, Operation Lightning Thunder officially ended, following pressure from the Congolese government, which found it politically difficult to support a continued Ugandan army presence on Congolese territory. But a covert joint military campaign continued, with the quiet approval of the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila. Both governments publicly maintain that the LRA is no longer a serious threat in Congo and that the bulk of the rebel group has either moved to Central African Republic or has been killed or dispersed.

These public declarations might have contributed to burying information about ongoing LRA attacks, leaving many victims feeling abandoned. An 80-year-old traditional chief, whose son was killed during the Makombo massacre, told Human Rights Watch: “We have been forgotten. It’s as if we don’t exist. The government says the LRA are no longer a problem, but I know that’s not true. I beg of you, please talk to others about what has happened to us.”

While the Makombo massacre is the most deadly documented attack by the LRA since the Christmas massacres of 2008, dozens of attacks against civilians have also been carried out in other areas in recent months – near the towns of Bangadi and Ngilima in Haut Uele district, in Ango territory in Bas Uele district, as well as in the Central African Republic.

In the December 2009 attacks near Bangadi and Ngilima, LRA combatants horribly mutilated six civilians, cutting off each victim’s lips and an ear with a razor. The LRA sent the victims back to their villages with a chilling warning to others that anyone who heard or spoke about the LRA would be similarly punished.

On March 11, 2010, the US Senate unanimously passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. If it becomes law, it will require President Barack Obama’s administration to develop a regional strategy to protect civilians in central Africa from attacks by the LRA, to work to apprehend the LRA’s leadership, and to support economic recovery for northern Uganda. The bill is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“The people of northeastern Congo and other LRA-affected areas have suffered for far too long,” said Van Woudenberg. “The US and other concerned governments should work with the UN and regional parties to develop and carry out a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians and apprehend abusive LRA leaders.”

As reported by Human Rights Watch

My Opinion

(“Donor aid should come in areas where Uganda needs development not in governance,” Mr Museveni said. “I am already an expert in governance who can again lecture me about governance?”)  – “Honestly who is this guy kidding? he is an expert in governance!? so why is his country full of corrupt politicians and military officials and its countrymen do not know, information is not made public? why do people have no access to clean water? why do you have rebels attacking innocent civilians, why, why, why? oh it must be because you have such great governance skills!

Sheesh, i have not heard such crap before as what i hear from this man repeatedly! Taking into consideration it was this man who abolished term limits for presidents, thus allowing him to be president as long as he wants to.  Acts of intimidation by military and politicians of the opposite party, tortures and abductions, missing people and murder.  Not to mention the current bill going through legislation that will effectively ban “free media”. Without media free from government control, just like Iran, the country will become a dictatorship country.  Museveni YOU ARE a Dictator. You overtook a government with military force (albeit he was a dictator too) and committed crimes against humanity yet you say it was all Dr Obote and his army, I suggest to you that it was NOT all him and that you also, are responsible for mass murder, conscription of children for military use, crimes against humanity and corruption.  Regardless of the crimes committed by  Dr Obote and his army, you sir are just as evil as him. You have dictated to your country men what they need to hear and not what is actually happening. You have twisted your reasoning and bargained your way into a position of power, like Kony, you will not relenquish that power, until you do, Uganda will suffer.

I think the Donor countries have every right to call out Museveni on his lack of governance not his expertise.  Alot of his countries budget is made up from donor funds sent by these countries.  If he has and still is letting down his countrymen by being a dictator, imagine how hard their lives would become if the donor countries pulled their funds, i suggest mass malnutrition and poverty and crime would seriously escalate. Northern Uganda has finally found some kind of peace and people are moving home from the IDP camps. The country is finally coming slowly with stability and yet this man continually pushes the boundaries with his “im holier than thou” attitude. He seems to think that he is superior to his fellow man.

I really hope that for the sake of All Ugandans, Museveni is not re-elected president again, as i feel that the country will stop going forward and rather start heading in reverse. All the things that have been achieved will become like a distant memory. ”

Rebecca Fowler – Freeuganda

The Report

President Museveni has hit back in a continuing row with donors telling them not to ask questions about governance. The President’s comments on Friday came on the same day this newspaper revealed that three senior western diplomats had written to the Electoral Commission over the slow pace of reforms ahead of next year’s election.

Put aid elsewhere

Speaking during the launch of a book on economic reforms in Uganda, President Museveni said donors should not tie development assistance to demands for better governance and democracy. “Donor aid should come in areas where Uganda needs development not in governance,” Mr Museveni said. “I am already an expert in governance who can again lecture me about governance?”

While President Museveni has previously told off donors, his latest comments come amidst growing local and international pressure on his government to improve governance and protect civil liberties.

The United States government, which is a key ally, has made democracy and good governance top of its agenda in Uganda under the Obama administration and is closely monitoring the road to the election.

The US ambassador to Uganda, Mr Jerry Lanier and his counterparts Martin Shearman (UK) and Joroen Verhaul (Netherlands) on March 3 co-wrote to Badru Kiggundu, the Electoral Commission chairman, warning that a failure to carry out reforms could erode confidence in the EC and put the credibility of the 2011 election at risk.

The government has brought four Bills to Parliament in response to calls for electoral reform but donors, the opposition and independent viewers say these are inadequate.

President Museveni’s statement indicates the government’s unwillingness to respond to pressure to implement more radical reforms such as disbanding the Electoral Commission as called for by the opposition.

Donors still fund a third of the national budget but say governance failures are affecting development and national stability. The World Bank resident representative recently issued its strongest statement yet in a scathing criticism of the government’s failure to deal with corruption.

Opposition chips in
While the President wants to keep donors out of the domestic political sphere, the opposition wants more involvement by the international community.

Responding to the envoy’s letter to the Electoral Commission, the acting Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Christopher Kibanzanga (FDC; Busongora South), said: “The donors have the key; they pushed President Museveni to accept multi-partyism [in 2005] and when they called him over the Anti-homosexuality Bill, the President immediately changed his position.”

MP Kibanzanga added: “If the donors tell him to accept the electoral reforms we are pushing for as the opposition, there is no doubt Mr Museveni will accept them within days.”

Information minister Kabakumba Masiko, however, said it was irregular for diplomats to bypass the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and transact business directly with domestic institutions. “They should use the right channel and work with [government] to concretise democratic gains in the country and the achievements so far made by the EC,” she said.

via Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – Museveni hits back in row with donors.

STATEMENT: Lord’s Resistance Army Finds Safe Haven in Darfur

KAMPALA, Uganda, JUBA, Sudan and WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Enough Project at the Center for American Progress today released the following statement:

The Enough Project confirms that a contingent of the deadly Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, has taken refuge in areas of south Darfur, Sudan, controlled by the Government of Sudan. The possibility of rekindled collaboration between LRA leader Joseph Kony and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – both wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, or ICC – should alarm policymakers and demands urgent international investigation and response.

The LRA originated in northern Uganda during the late 1980s. In addition to committing widespread atrocities in Uganda, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s the LRA served as a proxy for the Sudanese government in its war with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA, in southern Sudan. In 2005, Kony publicly stated that the Bashir government supported the LRA as a proxy force to destabilize the south, a charge that Khartoum continues to deny despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

“The Khartoum regime’s principal tool of war during its 21-year reign has been support for marauding militias such as the Janjaweed, the Murahaliin, and the Lord’s Resistance Army,” said Enough Co-founder John Prendergast. “Facing no consequences for this destructive method of governing, it is unsurprising that the regime is again providing safe haven for the LRA. Absent a cost for this, we will likely see the LRA unleashed again later this year to destabilize the referendum in southern Sudan.”

With material support from Khartoum, the LRA quickly became one of the deadliest militias in Africa, known for gruesome mutilations of civilians and abduction of children to serve as fighters and sex slaves. Following failed peace talks from 2006 to 2008, the LRA morphed into a full blown regional insurgency with fighters in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, or CAR, and southern Sudan.

In late 2009, Enough received credible information that an LRA reconnaissance team was seeking to make contact with the Sudanese army at their base in Kafia Kingi, near south Darfur‘s border with CAR. In recent months, Ugandan forces have pursued the LRA into Congo, CAR, and southern Sudan, but are restricted from crossing Sudan‘s disputed north-south border.

Now, based on months of field research and interviews with government and United Nations officials in several countries, Enough can confirm that LRA units have reached south Darfur.

“This is a very disturbing development. The move by the Government of Sudan to provide the LRA with safe haven demands a firm, rapid, and well-coordinated response from the United States and its partners in the international community,” said John Norris, Enough’s Executive Director. “A failure to bring clear and consistent pressure on President Bashir and his allies for this latest outrage will only encourage the Sudanese government to commit further abuses, with a terrible cost for civilians on the ground.”

Also today, Enough released a strategy paper by field researcher Ledio Cakaj detailing the continuing threat posed by the LRA to civilians in northeastern Congo. The report, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: LRA Attacks and Congolese Army Abuses in Northeastern Congo,” argues that much greater efforts must be made to protect civilians from a resurgent LRA and the predatory Congolese army.

Read the report at: http://www.enoughproject.org/publications/lra-army-abuses-congo

Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

SOURCE Center for American Progress

RELATED LINKS
http://www.enoughproject.org
http://www.americanprogress.org

via STATEMENT: Lord’s Resistance Army Finds Safe Haven in Darfur — KAMPALA, Uganda, JUBA, Sudan and WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.

So i’ve been reading a few books lately and i really need to let people know how amazing these books are.  Stories of real life struggles, survival and courage in the face of hardships.

Cola’s Journey – The story of a young sudanese man’s journey from Sudan, throughout africa and to finally become an Australian Refugee and Citizen. This book amazed me. The courage and strength of Cola (chol) and all that he has survived and lived through totally amazed me, how can one person have so much courage and strength to keep on going? 14 years of travelling, mostly by foot! but its not just one person that has gone through this, there are thousands upon thousands of kids with similar stories that still remain unheard. Cola’s determination, courage and strength inspire me to keep on doing what i do for Human Rights. NO ONE should have to be faced with the life he was dealt. No Human deserves to live in fear, be abducted, forced to do something against their will. No One!

First Kill Your Family – Child soldiers of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army. This book is a great informational tool. Contains facts and information about the war, theories and stories of those who were abducted.  All that i had suspected previously was confirmed in this book. Peter, thank you for bringing to light the stories of these beautiful children and the Acholi and Langi Tribes of Northern Uganda. Your book has just inspired me to be all i can be and to never give up. None of these children ever gave up on hope, nor will i.

I stand firm with my beliefs and hope that through my work with Invisible Children and other local non profits i can help bring about change. I can help inspire our nation to change the lives of others.

Australians have compassion, love and sympathy, yet sometimes they are lazy. The typical way of “laid back” life for us is someone else’s pain and suffering, when we are “laid back” they are dying, suffering and starving.You don’t need to be a martyr or a genius to help. Each person in this world has their own unique ability, a way in which they can help. Find your ability, find a cause and go on a mission, a mission to change.

I was bought up with parents who have served many years (even still serving) in the local Lions Club organisation. Through my childhood years i spent many hours volunteering in Blacktown with them. Through all i have done, it has given me a renewed sense of life, a greater meaning for me being here. I see myself as “a voice for the voiceless” one whom is willing to stand up when injustice happens and say “NO, this is NOT right!”

Imagine if our beloved country had rebels? Imagine YOUR children being abducted and forced to be soldiers? Imagine our government telling us we had 24 hours to leave our homes and go to displacement camps? How would this make you feel? Find that emotional connection and work with it. I found mine in an ex-child solider called “Jacob”. I connected with his pain as my son is called “jacob”, how easy it is to connect, to make something emotional and personal. Once we make it emotional and personal, we find our lives changing. Open your eyes to the uncomfortable, embrace it, work with it and change your life!

My life, will never be the same, it changed dramatically 3 yrs ago when i was introducted to Invisible Children’s Rough Cut DVD. This is my mission now, to help those who have been “invisible” through this 24 year war of madness. I am a new person, a different person, a fighter and challenger of evil. I will not stop until the day i die. I hope, once my children are older, to be able to take my mission international. To visit and help locally with those who are affected by evil’s, war and poverty.  Be it Africa, Indonesia or any other country that requires help. I have found why i was placed on earth, i challenge you to find your reason for existence.

My father said to me only a few weeks ago “you know you can’t save everyone”. Deep in my heart, i really wish i could, but i am only 1 person in a world of billions. I may not be able to “save” everyone, but i can educate those who will listen.  Education to me is something i never really cared to much about, but as i have grown older, i know that it is the key to everything. At 29 yrs old (pushing 30 next month!) i am only now realising how important education is, i am hoping to apply to university next year (2011) and to continue with my education. Each day i browse the net, looking for information, seeking education, seeking that which is not known and sharing with others. What satisfaction do i get out of this? Not Money or gifts, i get personal and spiritual satisfaction knowing that i CAN CHANGE THE WORLD one person at a time!

Without education, where would humanity be?

– Rebecca Fowler (freeuganda)

YouTube – Koh Reports – Embracing Evaline.

The story of a beautiful young Ugandan lady. I am honored to be a friend of her’s on Facebook and one day hope to meet with Evaline. God bless those still trapped in the bush, may this war have an end soon.  With International pressure we call all lend a hand in ending this war. Visit Invisible Children and see how you can help.

As reported on Monitor Online

“there is one sentence in this whole article that sums the entire thing up and i could not have said it any better myself  “Museveni has so changed Uganda that everything revolves around him.”” Rebecca Fowler

NRM failures at a glance

* Failed to deliver free-and-fair elections.

* Failed to create consensus on democracy, citizenship, political systems, respect and protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and electoral system.

* The President has an over-bearing influence over Parliament, often pushing MPs to pass laws he is interested in.

* The appointment of political cadres to the bench could jeopardise the independence of the Judiciary

* Other agencies like the Police, Civil Service, Teaching Service are also being “infiltrated” by military and political appointees.

* Political parties have been denied space to organise while the Movement continues to operate side by side with other parties despite claims of a multi-party dispensation.

* Employment in the formal sector remains low.

* Tax collection has stagnated at 12/13 per cent–below the African avarage of 18 per cent.

* Corruption has reached the Mobutu/Suharto/Ferdinand levels.

* Too many ghosts. Ghost teachers and students, ghost health workers and health facilities.

* Merit no longer a requirement in appointments and promotions in government jobs.

* The North was at war for over two decades and remains underdeveloped.

Mr Augustine Ruzindana served in the NRM government as Inspector General of Government and also represented Ruhaama County in the 7th Parliament. The Forum for Democratic Change Secretary for Research explains why no one should toast to President Museveni’s 24 years of power.

The last 24 years have been a mixture of successes, failures and disappointments. Museveni has had significant impact on so many aspects of the country and the lives of its people and within the Great Lakes region but I will only be able to deal with a few of them, in particular governance and politics.

His greatest success has been his ability to hold power for so long no matter what he has done with that power. His greatest disappointment has been failure to deliver free and fair elections and to transform the country from least developed to a developed industrial country which he had been accusing other leaders of failing to do.

He has also failed to create consensus on such issues as democracy, citizenship, political systems, respect and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, electoral system (see the representation of NUDIPU an NGO, UPDF, NOTU in parliament), system of local government (federalism) and the separation of his party from the state.

After 24 years the basis of Museveni’s tenure of power remains Legal Notice No.1 of 1986 issued immediately after the NRA captured power on January 25th 1986. Museveni, as Chair of the High Command of the NRA, ruled by decree until Legal Notice No.1 of 1986 (Amendment) Decree of 1987 vested “All Legislative powers” in the National Resistance Council (NRC).

During the initial years major decisions like the four-year initial transitional period and the restoration of the Kabaka were made by the NRA Army Council not the NRC, which was the top political organ of the NRM party and also chaired by Museveni.

Thus, Museveni was legally the head of the Legislature and the Executive at the same time until the 6th Parliament elected in 1996 under the 1995 Constitution. This should explain why the checks and balances of the 1995 Constitution failed to work.

With the experience of the bush days and the first 10 years of NRM rule, Museveni still looks at Parliament as an organ of the NRM and the Speaker as one of his appointees deployed to chair Parliament.

This explains why the late James Wapakhabulo and the late Francis Ayume could be removed from being Speaker without raising a murmur of protest. This is also why Museveni still decides what laws Parliament passes and when. The Land Amendment Act and the Regional Tier Bill are recent examples. In reality the independent Parliament created by the Constitution does not exist, it is just the NRC with another name.

The only organ of state that did not come under the President’s direct control was the Judiciary and to this day, even if it is gradually changing through appointment of NRM supporters, it is still under frequent unjustified attack by the President.

Militarised Police
Similarly, the Police never came under the direct control of the NRM until recently when serving military officers were appointed to head it, thus facilitating the posting of military officers to various departments and sections of the police, especially the intelligence department that replaced Special Branch.

The Civil Service and the Teaching Service are also undergoing similar changes through appointment and the recent patriotism programmes. This is the background to the power equation under Museveni/NRM rule. All the congratulatory messages in the media capture this reality by showing the picture of the man to whom the messages are sent.

One man’s show
Power in the army, the executive and the legislature has been held by one man since January 1986. He has exercised this power largely to continue as president indefinitely.

The first 10 years were of great promise and registered most successes. The President formed a broad-based government accommodating different political views and interests. The system of decentralisation and resistance councils (now local councils) with elected leaders was introduced.

Increased press freedom coupled with freedom for civil society to organise seemed to create prerequisites for a thriving democracy. These measures created immense good will and popularity for Museveni and his party. However, from the very beginning at no time was freedom for political parties to organise tolerated.

This has been a consistent position which to this day accounts for persisting police repression of activities of political parties.
While addressing the Movement National Conference on March 30, 2003 Museveni told the participants: “Because of the nature of our society, we shall not be a party”, but “we must have a system of allowing people who do not want to be part of the Movement to find their own home.” (New Vision, March 31, 2003).

Thus the movement system continues to operate as before side-by-side with political parties which are allowed to operate within restricted bounds.

Case of EC
The NRM political school managed by the UPDF continues to operate as before. The movement-era Electoral Commission remains in place with members appointed on the same criteria and in the same manner as RDCs. To maintain local councils as structures of the NRM, competitive elections have not been held since 2006 when their terms of office expired.

With regard to the economy, there were successes in turning round the economy and in maintaining macro-economic stability.
The rehabilitation and reconstruction phase attracted huge international support resulting in improved physical and social infrastructure. Employment levels in the formal sectors remain very low.

Tax collection improved but is dominated by indirect and import taxes and has stagnated at 12/13 per cent far below the African average of 18 per cent (Kenya 24 per cent).

Reports of foreign investment are of licensed projects by the UIA not of actual investment made. The country has registered respectable growth rates but the high birth rate and huge disparities between the rich and poor make the growth another ghost to the majority.

Governance, human rights protection, openness and accountability, due process and fair trial improved for sometime but there has been a sharp decline in the last 10 years.

The levels of corruption have reached the Mobutu/Suharto/Ferdinand Marcos levels and the regime can be rightly classified as a kleptocracy; corruption, loss of gains that had been made, has occurred at central and local government levels undermining service delivery so much so that no one takes the President’s lamentations seriously.

There are ghost teachers and students, ghost health workers and ghost health facilities and payment for air supply has become common place. Numerous scandals involving high level personalities have created a thriving sector of commissions of inquiry. Nepotism and cronyism are dominant features in recruitment, promotions and in doing business with government.

Greatest failure
The greatest failure, however, has been the failure to deliver free-and-fair elections, the alleged cause of the Luwero war. The elections of 1996, 2001, 2006 under Museveni have not been deemed free and fair.

It seems this is an ingrained character trait as in some of these elections Museveni could have won without rigging.
For elections to be considered free-and-fair, there must be agreed rules for the electoral process and they must be conducted by an electoral management body accepted and respected by all the participants in the elections.

Failure to meet this requirement explains why elections are always considered rigged and do not achieve the finality they should.

Museveni has so changed Uganda that everything revolves around him.

The 24 years have been a movement from chaos (Lutwa) and tyrannical instability (Obote 11) to relative peace and more or less tyrannical stability.

via Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – MUSEVENI 24 YEARS LATER: It has been a move from chaos to tyranny and tyrannical stability.

So i have lots on my plate this year, which is quite exciting for me now as i’m no longer working.

This year i’m dedicating my time to ensuring my health gets better as this “hypothyroidism” really sucks crab big time and i’m so over being exhausted and sick. I’m also dedicating my time to some new volunteer work at the Horn of Africa Relief and Development centre, hopefully helping newly arrived Sudanese to learn basic English to help them gain employment.

I’ve got some great things booked already for Invisible Children Aus, like the Orientation Day stall at Notre Dame University in February of this year and am hoping to have a stall at the Blacktown Festival in June of this year also.

Since seeing the Invisible Children Documentary i have felt blessed to be able to help in a way that i have but sometimes it feels like its not enough, like if i died would all i have done gone noticed? i don’t feel so, i know do alot for others but in a way i feel constricted to the computer, like i have not done enuff “hands on” work, so my goal is to get to Northern Uganda in April of 2011 and do some “hands on” work with 3 great organizations, Invisible Children, Joy for Children Uganda and Compassion Australia.

Whilst in Northern Uganda i wish to briefly study the effects of war and poverty within the community as well as document stories of those affected by the war and poverty as well as the AIDS/HIV virus. I will then be visiting my sponsored children in Western Uganda before heading home to apply to University. I’m not quite sure exactly which course i want to take as yet as i’m still conflicted between Journalism and Peace & Development as i’m not totally sure which one of those would help me achieve what it is i want to achieve in my life.

I love being able to inspire people and report injustices, unheard stories and helping others understand the plight of those in war & poverty.

Where i live, we have a large Sudanese Community who are settling here and i feel that we need to understand more what these people have lived through and how better we can serve them to help them become fantastic community members as well. The racism i see going on is wrong.  I myself have been a victim of racism by a newly arrived Youth quite recently actually and found myself quite shocked by this youth’s behavior and clear lack of respect for anyone but himself.  It really upset me that i was just driving down the street and suddenly this youth stepped out on the road in front of my car and expected me to be able to stop for him! when i called out the window and proceed to explain he had stepped out on the road and it was not a footpath,  i was told in quite a forceful manner to “f**k off!” well i lost it right then and there and told him in my best Aussie Accent “no mate, you f**k off, this is a road not a footpath!! your lucky i was able to stop!” I held no racism nor hate or malice against this youth but it really pissed me off that he EXPECTED me to stop my car immediately and let him walk across the road! Then it kinda made me wonder what this youth has been through both before coming here and then after coming here and what could have happened to him to make him be so rude and forceful, was he a victim of racism by our local community?  I felt ashamed and really not proud of myself for my outburst but i had just had enough.

Over the last few weeks i have come to see that there is SOOO much racism in Australia its not funny and yet we are built on a foundation of multiculturalism, how did we get like this? The Aussie way is giving a hand to the battlers, giving people a fair go, yet all i hear are people complaining about our govt letting in refugee’s and immigrants. Do these people not deserve a fair go? Refugee’s are the most resilient and strong people on our earth, they have faced such hard times and suffered things, we in our beautiful country have not had to experience, yet you all complain?

Unless your an aboriginal, REMEMBER your family immigrated here sometime either recently or in history!! Our penal colony country has evolved into a haven of racism and hate and it really saddens me to see i, but can we expect any less from a country that was founded with criminals?

My parents immigrated here when they were children with their families, had they not, i’d probably be Dutch and living in the Netherlands. What country would you have been born in if your parents were not blessed to call Australia home? think about it!

so as not to end on a downer, i really wanna congratulate Invisible Children on winning the Chase Community Giveaway through Facebook! $1 Million Dollars!! $100,000 of that has been pledged to Haiti Relief and the rest will be used to build schools and water wells as well as maintain the cotton farm in Northern Uganda so that very soon the Tshirts you buy will be MADE on Invisible Children Cotton from Northern Uganda, how cool is that!!! Invisible Children keep on fighting for the end of a war that has been raging for around 24 yrs now. Will you join in the fight? the fight to end the Longest Running War in Africa?

– Rebecca Fowler

Freeuganda

This is an excerpt from a news paper clip regarding Uganda and their President Museveni and my opinion to the comment in bold of his.

President Museveni has started a campaign to improve household income among rural farmers to enhance the fight against poverty. The President, who visited farmers in Mukono and rewarded them for their achievements in implementing National Agriculture Advisory (Naads) programmes, pledged his commitment to fight poverty at household level.

Many people speak about development but they do not understand it because they keep on referring development to tarmac roads, electricity and schools but to me, I consider household income. If we achieve this, our road to development is done,” Mr Museveni said.

via Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – Museveni launches campaign to improve household income.

What on earth is this guy thinking? “They keep on referring to development to tarmac roads, electricity and schools..” umm, HELLO!!  That is exactly WHAT development is! What is the point in having a higher “household” income when the  schools in the community lack basic items, the houses lack access to electricity, people cannot farm because of drought and lack of water, El Nino is affecting the weather and poverty and hunger are rife,  oh and also, you tell me Mr Museveni how are you going to Raise the “household income” for those rural farmers in times such as today’s droughts, in floods and the El Nino effect that has been happening in Rural and Sub-Saharan Africa (including your own Uganda). The last line of the news report says “Mukono District Chairman Francis Lukooya Mukoome asked the government to include provision of fertilisers under the Naads programme to help farmers realise their targets, saying the soils were no longer fertile.” again i ask the question how??

Instead of Mr Museveni telling his people what they need, maybe for once he needs to actually listen to his citizens! Oh, wait i forgot, this is just another Rebel leader who over threw yet another Rebel leader in a long history of Military Coup’s and rebel leaders!

What the Ugandan’s need is a President who is willing to listen to it’s people and then make decisions, not tell them what they need, how would he know when he lives his life of luxury in Kampala and they are living in poverty and suffering conditions in their counties and communities. Has he forgotten about what he was responsible for back in the 1980’s? it appears so!

George W. Bush, the worst US President ever (as far as i’m concerned) praised Mr Museveni for what he is doing for Ugandan’s, why? So that Mr Museveni would support his campaign on “Terror and Terrorism” against Saddam Hussain. Praised him for what? sending over 1 Million people into displacement camps? Leaving them with little, if any protection against the rebels they were supposedly “protecting” them from? Allowing the LRA to pillage, rape, abduct and destroy the lives of so many in Northern Uganda and since then, DRC and CAR as well as Southern Sudan!

Shame on you Mr Bush, your words ensured this guys ego swelled to the size of an elephant that he decided to change laws to initially keep himself as president until he was the age of 75 (or similar from what i’ve read).

I truly feel for the Ugandan’s as i see through their history they  have been dealt the “raw end of  the stick” so many times with Amin, Obote, Museveni, Kony and that is to just mention a few!

Mr Museveni, when 90-95% of the citizens of your country have access to electricity and clean water, then can you say that “development” is  “higher household income”

Rebecca Fowler

(*Freeuganda) – All opinions expressed on this blog are that of my own opinion and do not express those opinions of any corporations or non profits that i may belong to.

Gulu

Former internally displaced people who have returned to their homes in Gulu District are facing shortage of clean drinking water, Daily Monitor has learnt.

In an interview over the weekend, the chairman of Palaro Sub-county in Gulu, Mr David Ngole, said women walk for over 15 kilometres in search of drinking water. Mr Ngole urged the government to intervene immediately, adding that any delay could severely frustrate resettlement efforts in the war battered district.

Danger

“They are exposed to rapists at night and snake bites as they travel in the bush in search of water,” he added. Mr Ngole added that water sources in villages like Abwoc Bel, Wipolo, Owalo and Kalali dried up when people were still in the camps.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Works and Technical Services, Mr Alex Otim, said some women are forced to collect rain water from mud ponds. “Some of them drink unsafe water and this exposes them to risks of getting bilharzia,” Mr Otim said. He added that the council would make provision of safe water and roads a priority.

Official figures indicate that in Gulu District alone, over 85 per cent of former displaced persons have returned home and several camps have been closed. The Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency displaced thousands of people in northern and eastern Uganda and forced them into camps.

As reported via Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – Gulu residents trek miles for water.

Some of the patients at Gulu hospital sleeping on spring beds without mattresses

By Chris Ocowun

MANY patients at Gulu referral hospital sleep on the floor, or on beds without mattresses. Terezina Akot, 60, said she was forced to buy papyrus mats to spread on the floor for her patient.

“When we came we found all the beds occupied. We had to buy papyrus mats. That is where we sleep with many other patients,” Akot narrated.

She told The New Vision last Thursday that other patients sleep on clothing.

Conditions at night are said to be worse with patients and their caretakers fighting for space on the ward floors with some sleeping in the corridors.

“Even the drugs are not enough. After surgical operations, the medical workers tell us to buy medicine. I have been here for one month and bought drugs worth sh16,000, yet there is no improvement in my condition,” said Lily Auno, who was nursing a large wound on her leg.

Conditions in the maternity ward are worse. Mothers who have just given birth are told to vacate their beds for women who are in labour.

The wards for surgery, children and out-patients are also over-crowded.

“On Mondays, more than 500 patients queue at the dispensing window to receive drugs, Others sit under the sun to wait for drugs. We used to have about 100 patients at the out-patients department on Mondays,” a medic remarked.

Nurses noted that though some of the wards have been renovated, they lacked mattresses, beddings and other accessories, and that the few remaining beds in them were in poor condition.

The medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Yovenito Agel Akii, acknowledged the number of inpatients in the various wards was more than double their capacity, and that there was a shortage of drugs, supplies and medical workers: “Gulu referral hospital is a 250-bed hospital and yet in the last six months, the number of our inpatients has doubled from 400-600. We receieve a budget for 250 beds and yet we are handling double this number.”

read the full report via New Vision Online : Gulu hospital lacks beds.

Kampala — THE UPDF 4th Division commander, Brig. Charles Otema Awany, has camped at Obbo village in the Central African Republic to coordinate operations against the LRA remnants headed by Joseph Kony.

The regional army spokesman, Capt. Ronald Kakurungu, said Otema took over the command against the LRA rebels from Brig. Patrick Kankiriho.

“The hardcore LRA criminals are in the Central African Republic. The issue now is when to put the final nails on them since they are already defeated,” Kakurungu told journalists at his office on Monday.

He said the situation in the north was calm with more troops deployed in the DR Congo, the Central African Republic and at all the borders to pursue the LRA rebels and ensure that they do not return to Uganda.

“We have not lost focus in these operations and our mission is to ensure that the problem of LRA rebels does not spill over to the north again,” Kakurungu noted.

Kakurungu said the army had killed 305 rebels since it launched a joint military offensive, Operation Lightning Thunder, on December 14, 2008, under the command of Kankiriho.

He said the UPDF jointly attacked the LRA hideouts with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army and the Congolese army in an operation backed by the air force, paratroopers and infantry.

Read the full report via allAfrica.com: Central African Republic: Army in CAR to Fight Kony.

opinion by: Andrew M. Mwenda

6 January 2010 – AllAfrica Post

Kampala — Since Ndorwa West MP David Bahati introduced a bill to kill homosexuals, I have become wary of the behaviour of Uganda’s international donors. They have threatened to cut off aid if the government goes ahead with the bill. This way, they are literally using their money to blackmail government to respect gay rights. Yet this approach, although driven by good intentions, is actually counterproductive.

Those hostile to homosexuals argue that gays are promoted by the West with money to undermine African culture although they have not produced even a scintilla of evidence to support this claim. But by threatening aid cuts if the bill is passed, donors are inadvertently proving the purveyors of this argument right. Donors should learn that cultural change should be a gradual internal process. To use force to make people change their attitudes would require a high amount of coercion that is certainly undesirable. Intimidation and blackmail are not effective weapons against cultural bigotry; open debate is.

In threatening aid cuts, I suspect Western leaders are actually addressing their constituents. Their electorates see the bill as a barbaric move to suppress a fundamental right. However, donors need to be careful not to be seen to be arm-twisting the government. The biggest challenge gays and lesbians face in Uganda is not state law (however draconian) but deeply held cultural bigotry by the society.

Therefore, a democratic government would find it difficult to resist popular pressure to hang homosexuals. Multitudes of Ugandans are homophobic and would not hesitate to sanction genocide against gays. To secure attitudinal change through force would require unprecedented violence. Our challenge is how to foster openness and tolerance. This can only be achieved through open debate.

This is why although Bahati is subjectively homophobic, he is objectively an ally of gays. By introducing his bill with provisions to kill gays, he has inadvertently opened debate on a subject that has been taboo in Uganda. In the process, he has given gays and progressive intellectuals an opportunity and a platform to enlighten Ugandans about sexual diversity and expose the fallacies that inform homophobia.

Since I wrote a column criticising Bahati, I have been impressed by the number of young Ugandans who have written to me saying the debate has made them rethink their prejudice. There have been critics as well and others who wrote calling me names. I had expected worse. My column also generated fierce debate on our website with the anti-homosexual side suffering a devastating but delicious intellectual beating.

A particular problem with Ugandan society is its low levels of openness. As evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller has written, openness to experience implies curiosity, novelty seeking, broad-mindedness, interest in culture, ideas and aesthetics. Our society exhibits low levels of openness partly because of the influence of tradition.

But as our society modernises and urbanises, a new cultural sophistication is consolidating. For example, in the current debate on Bahati’s bill, the most virulent anti-gay crusaders are largely (although not entirely) from rural areas, born in peasant families, are less travelled and are not widely read. So they lack exposure to diversity. The opposite applies to most of the people who are tolerant of gays.

It is easy to tell open-minded people; they tend to seek complexity and novelty, they readily accept innovations and changes – and as Miller writes, they prefer grand new visions to mundane, predictable ruts. This sounds like a personality profile of Charles Onyango-Obbo. You cannot catch a person of his attitude and calibre in a homo-bashing rant.

People who are low on openness tend to seek simplicity and predictability; they resist change and respect tradition. They are often more conservative, close-minded, conventional and authoritarian. They follow the established cults as did their grand parents. Even in heterosexual relationships, they reject creative acts that increase intimacy. In the name of tradition, they support female genital mutilation, practice polygamy, beat their wives and want to decide for their children.

The Ugandan education system adds to the problem. At home, children are taught to obey their parents without question. In school, Students are taught to respect every opinion in a book or from the teacher instead of questioning it. That is why it is boring and frustrating reading opinions in our newspapers or listening to radio talk-shows. There is little attempt to add value to existing dogmas and beliefs.

Yet life is more complex than the “facts” that stare us in the face suggest. A person from mars visiting a small poverty stricken village in Karamoja would find people living close to the Stone Age – sleeping in grass thatched mud-huts, walking naked, cooking in medieval pots and eating from pre-historic wooden bowls. Visiting a high-tech firm in the Silicon Valley, he finds people building rockets that can navigate other planets millions of miles from the earth and yet keep sending pictures of what they observe.

It seems obvious to a casual observer from mars that the people in Karamoja are mentally inferior to those in the Silicon Valley; otherwise how do we explain such fundamental differences? Well the people in Karamoja will be black and the ones in the Silicon Valley will be white. Therefore, on the basis of this hard “evidence”, it is easy to conclude that blacks are inferior to whites in intelligence.

Actually, this “hard evidence” of white intellectual superiority was the basis of slavery, colonialism and other forms of racial injustice visited on the black race. Today, most people know that the factors that shape the economic and social destiny of peoples are varied and diverse; the colour of one’s skin has almost nothing to do with it. The difference in achievements between a worker in Google and a Karimojong cattle-herder may be rooted in the simple accident of history and geography, not their mental abilities.

As we debate Bahati’s bill, we will learn that the factors that shape human sexuality are complex and we should therefore not kill anyone because they are different. We should punish those who sexually molest children and those who rape – not because of their sexual orientation but because they violated some else’s rights while seeking sexual gratification. Happy New Year!

As reported on allAfrica.com: Uganda: Donors Blackmail On Gays Bad.

” A good read for those interested, i can see for’s and againsts for the bill and further discussion and education in Uganda about sexuality is required in order to quell the fears of those who are homophobic” Rebecca Fowler

Who was Bok Abudema?

Abudema hails from Alero-Lamogi in Amuru district. He worked as a sugarcane cutter in Jinja during the Obote II regime.

When President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986, he joined the UPDA, a rebel group composed of soldiers of the former Okello regime which fought to overthrow the new Government.

He joined the LRA in 1988 after Kony was attacked by Museveni’s NRA at Bwobo railways station in Alero Sub-county, Gulu District. He was one of the few remaining LRA fighters who had joined the rebel group voluntarily.

Abudema was involved in many massacres in northern Uganda. In 1998, he took part in the killing of 11 LRA fighters who were accused of practicing witchcraft in Jebelein, the LRA camp in Southern Sudan.

In December 1999, after the passing of the Amnesty Act by the Ugandan Parliament, he executed the then number two, Otti Lagony, in their camp in Sudan on Kony’s orders.

In 2002, Abudema commanded a raid in Agoro Sub-county in Kitgum district in which several civilians and UPDF soldiers died and at least 100 people were abducted. The trading centre was looted and the military barracks burnt down.

In April 2002, he took part in a massacre of about 800 civilians at Katire village in Southern Sudan.

In 2003, he was among the senior LRA commanders who crossed into the Teso region in eastern Uganda and carried out horrific massacres and massive abductions.

On October 2, 2007, he took part in the execution of Kony’s deputy, Vincent Otti, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Abudema shouted the order ‘fire’ to the firing squad. Earlier, he had participated in arresting, torturing and humiliating Otti.

He was reportedly wounded during the December 14, 2008 air strikes on the LRA camps in eastern Congo under the joint offensive.

via Welcome To The Sunday Vision online: Uganda’s leading weekly.

Yesterday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay released two new reports that detail Joseph Kony’s campaigns of violence against civilians in northeastern DR Congo and South Sudan over the past year. The reports are the first public accounting of recent LRA crimes from the UN.  Joseph Kony

Pillay described LRA brutality as “consistent, deliberate and egregious,” and the report includes gruesome witness accounts such as that of one man who “reported discovering the mutilated body of a fellow villager. The villager’s leg had been chopped off, his jaws had been dislocated and his teeth had been pulled out.”

In her press briefing about the reports, Pillay called for regional governments and international leaders to enforce outstanding International Criminal Court warrants for the arrest of Kony and other senior LRA commanders, and for UN peacekeepers to act more boldly to protect civilians from the widespread violence.

Even though the reports conclude that LRA violence constitutes one of the deadliest situations of violence in the world – the rebel group murdered at least 1,300 civilians over the past year – few international leaders have called for aggressive international action to execute the warrants. LRA violence is taking place in incredibly remote areas of the Congo, Sudan, and Central African Republic, and international attention to the region has been focused much more on separate situations of violence in eastern Congo and Sudan.

The UN reports come amdist  growing fears that the LRA intends to repeat the “Christmas Massacres” of 2008, in which hundreds of Congolese civilians celebrating the holiday were brutally killed. UN peacekeepers in the Congo are deploying additional troops and are said to be on “high alert” to address this immediate threat.

As reported: United Nations rights chief: “Arrest Joseph Kony” | Resolve Uganda.

Status of the Camp Phase-Out Process in Acholi, Lango and Teso Sub-regions






Region/District Camps officially recognized by the government Camps meeting Phase-out Criteria but yet to be assessed by DCPC Camps not meeting 50% Phase-out criteria Camps Assessed and recommended for Phase-out/ Decommissioning by DCPC Camps closed/ Decommissioned
Gulu 31 14 1 10 6
Amuru 34 12 8 14 0
Pader 31 13 0 18 0
Kitgum 25 7 0 18 0
Katakwi 44 2 0 0 42
Amuria 17 5 0 0 12
Lira 41 0 0 0 41
Oyam 20 0 0 0 20






TOTAL 243 53 9 60 121






Legend




Phase-out criteria At least 50% of camp population has returned



DCPC District Camp Phase-out Committee















UNHCR Uganda October 5, 2009









IDMC | Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Uganda.