Govt drafts law to save the President from prosecution
Sudanese President Gen. Omar al-Bashir wanted by the ICC.
Uganda has officially become the second African country after South Africa to block a visit by Sudanese President Gen. Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir faces a similar situation in 28 other African countries and more than 90 others worldwide which are signatories to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC)Rome Statute. The number of potential arrest spots for Bashir swells if countries that are not signatories but are cooperative with the ICC are included.
Uganda placed itself between a rock and a hard place when it invited him to the 19th edition of the International Global Smart Partnership dialogue in Kampala between July 26 and 28.
Since then, analysts have pointed out that, the narrowing of space for Bashir has implications for President Yoweri Museveni and other African leaders too.
Bashir has a warrant of arrest hanging over his head issued by The Hague-based ICC for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s restive western region of Darfur between 2003 and 2008.
But African Union (AU) leaders at their July 4 summit in Sirte, Libya, had resolved not to cooperate with the ICC “pursuant to the provisions of Article 98 of the Rome Statute on the ICC...or the arrest and surrender of African indicted personalities.”
Since the arrest warrants were issued in March, Bashir has defiantly visited several African countries and the Middle East. But coming to Kampala would be significant because it would be the first visit to a country which is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
South Africa blocked Bashir from attending President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration in May with a warning that it would arrest him to honour its obligations to the ICC.
Initial indications that Bashir would attend shifted world attention to whether Uganda, as a signatory to the Rome Statute, would flout the AU position, uphold its international obligation to the ICC, and arrest him.
At the time, Lina Zedriga, a women’s peace and security advocate in Kampala, argued that although the Rome Statute puts obligations on the signatory countries to arrest the suspects, it does not impose legal punishments on countries which do not comply.
“The institutional framework to practically deliver this arrest seems to be largely absent even at the ICC level. There is a gap as the court operates on the cooperation, so failure to cooperate is not fatal to Uganda,” she said.
But David Mpanga, a senior lawyer in Kampala, argued that Uganda could not risk undermining the ICC.
“Uganda cannot go with the AU on the Bashir indictment. That would not be politically expedient in light of the fact that Uganda now chairs the UN Security Council,” Mpanga reasoned. “There is also the matter of Kony; how does Uganda urge the DRC and others to apprehend Kony if they lay their hands on them but then let Bashir slip through its hands?”
On the face of it, Uganda appeared to be reacting with classic confusion. Later analysis revealed, however, that it could have been orchestrated confusion.
The unstated view of most AU leaders who signed the Sirte resolution is that most of the ICC accusations of war crimes have been against Africans. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is locked up at The Hague on trial under the jurisdiction of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, while former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba and former DRC warlords Thomas Lubanga, Germaine Katanga, and Mathieu Ngudjolo are on trial by the ICC.
To this group, Bashir’s indictment proves that the ICC is only working at the whims of western leaders. Most African leaders fear that they could end up on trial in The Hague should they fall out of favour with the West.
On March 29, 2006 Taylor was arrested and handed to the ICC despite a 2003 assurance of immunity from prosecution from his host, then Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo, then South African President Thabo Mbeki and the international community. On the day Taylor was arrested Obasanjo had a scheduled meeting with then US President George Bush. Insiders claim Bush gave Obasanjo an ultimatum: “Arrest Taylor or meeting is off.”
At a broader level, DR Congo president Joseph Kabila has filed a similar case in the ICC against President Museveni’s government on accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity following Uganda’s military campaign against the Kinshasa government between 1998 and 2002. If the ICC finds merit in the DRC case, we may witness Bashir-like indictments against the Ugandan leadership.
However, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has condemned the position of the African leaders saying they are seeking protection “when one of them” is called to face justice.
“The ICC represents hope for victims of atrocities and sends a message that no one is above the law. That hope and message will be undermined if the African Union condemns the Court because it has charged an African head of state,” Annan said.
But threatening Bashir with arrest has other significant implications for President Museveni.
Uganda is slated to host the ICC review conference next year. As a prelude, the government is working hard to ensure the ICC Bill of 2006, which is the domestication of the Rome Statute, is enacted into law before the end of this year.
It is, therefore, interesting that in the ICC Bill which the Uganda government wants parliament to pass, Clause 19 which spells out those to be tried under the law, excludes Article 27 of the Rome Statute.
Article 27 of the Rome Statute disregards immunity conferred to the heads of state under their national law. That is why Bashir can be arrested even if he is a sitting president.
Kampala Central MP Erias Lukwago who sits on the Parliamentary Legal Committee says the domesticated ICC Bill must also hold the head of state accountable.
“We are challenging this exclusion of the president from prosecution in case he commits war crimes. We want government to adopt the Rome Statute article that disregards [such] immunity.”
He says the reason for immunity of a sitting president in cases related to war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Ugandan law is similar to the views of African leaders towards the ICC.
According to Lukwago, Uganda cannot risk to be seen championing the arrest of Bashir when back home in the national ICC Bill they are seeking to exempt a sitting president from similar criminal liability.
The arrival in Uganda of the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo initially appeared to complicate the government’s strategy. Initially interpreted as an attempt to secure assurance from Uganda that it would arrest Bashir should he step into the country, Ocampo’s visit appears to have served the interests of the Uganda government more than it did the ICC.
Charles Taylor, ex-leader of Liberia on Trial in the Hague for alleged war crimes.
Before Ocampo arrived, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kuteesa, said Bashir was free to travel to Uganda.
“We cannot invite President Bashir here and then arrest him. We don’t work like that,” he said at a press conference.
He said Uganda would abide by the AU resolution and not act until an investigation by an AU-appointed commission has given its recommendations on Bashir’s indictment. He said the decision was not a denial of support for the Rome Statute.
However that changed when Ocampo arrived and told a press a conference in Kampala that Uganda was under obligation to arrest Bashir.
“South Africa informed Bashir that he could be invited to President Zuma’s inauguration, but while he is there he could be arrested,” he continued, “It’s a legal obligation not a political decision, it’s a court decision and Uganda, South Africa and the 30 African (member) state parties have this legal obligation, it’s clear.”
Uganda’s Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem who spoke at the same press meeting with Ocampo, appeared to contradict his senior minister.
“The warrant against Bashir is already deposited here in the Solicitor General’s office,” Okello said, “If and when Bashir arrives here in Uganda, then it is up to Kayihura [head of the police] to see to it that he takes action if and when it arises.”
His statement sparked a cloud of confusion. President Museveni panicked into calling Bashir to refute Oryem’s remarks. Museveni, according to the Sudan News Agency, told Bashir that Oryem’s statement did not represent the Uganda government position.
However observers now believe that Oryem could not have contradicted his senior and the president without the matter having been discussed and endorsed by the government.
However the dice was cast. Amid the confusion, Bashir could only travel to Kampala at his own peril.
So it was not surprising that Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Permanent James Mugume announced the next day that the two countries had agreed that Bashir delegates a senior cabinet official to represent him at the Smart Partnership dialogue.
President Museveni had achieved double success; Bashir would not set foot in Kampala and therefore it relieved him of the ICC obligation to arrest him or the AU responsibility to spare him.
Analysts point out that Uganda’s dilemma doubled because in December 2003 it became the first country to refer a case to the ICC, which in July 2005 issued indictments against Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leaders, Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen over 2,200 killings and 3,200 abductions between July 2002 and June 2004, in about 850 attacks.
The ICC indictments have since been blamed for the LRA’s failure or refusal to sign a peace agreement with the government.
The government is, however, aware that the ICC involvement drew international support to its efforts to end the rebellion.
Currently, a bill called the “LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act 2009” is being pushed through the US Senate to ensure further support.
The Uganda government has been careful not to jeopardise that through its handling of the Bashir affair.
If Bashir had come and was not arrested, it would have left Uganda in the mud and rendered the ICC indictments inconsequential. This could motivate other countries to follow suit and no other indicted person would ever get bothered by the ICC indictments.
Ocampo, who travelled to Uganda from Kinshasa where he sought MONUC support to apprehend Kony, told journalists in Kampala that was the other reason for his visit.
Ensuring that Bashir stays away from Kampala was no easy job.
On July 16, just a few hours before Mugume announced that Bashir would send a representative, a source in The Hague quoting contacts in Khartoum had told The Independent that information from Sudan indicated that Bashir was determined to come to Kampala to put the efficacy of the ICC indictments on absolute test.
The other reason that added to the pressure was that Uganda is currently heading the UN Security Council, which has not accepted the AU request to defer Bashir’s indictment for 12 months.
Complying with the International Crminal Court arrest warrant would, however, not only put Uganda’s diplomatic relations with Sudan at risk, but could also alienate Uganda from other fellow African countries that share the African Union’s thinking. If that happened, Uganda then could face political isolation by her counterparts on the continent.
This view was reinforced by the Sudanese Ambassador to Uganda Abdil Rahim al-Sadiq who said in the wake of contradicting statements from Uganda government officials that Uganda risked a diplomatic row if it dared arrest Bashir.
Uganda has in the past accused Khartoum of sponsoring the Kony rebellion in northern Uganda. It is feared that any diplomatic tiff could resurrect such hostilities and strangle the remaining hope for peace.
If arresting Bashir in Kampala could have reignited hostilities between Sudan and Uganda, not arresting him does not mean that Khartoum now counts on Uganda as an ally.
Blocking Bashir also seems to have provided a temporary rather than a permanent solution.
Even after blocking Bashir visit, South African President Jacob Zuma is still under pressure to state his country’s stand regarding Bashir’s indictment.
Human rights organisations want Zuma to categorically state that he is not party to the AU decision. The agitators include Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia; and Dumisa Ntsebeza, a member of the international commission of inquiry on Darfur appointed by the UN.
Cases before the ICC
On 17 July 1998, 120 states adopt the Rome Statute, which sets up the International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute became operational on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.
The ICC is joined by 109 countries. It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings were undertaken to shield a person from criminal responsibility.
To date, three States Parties to the Rome Statute – Uganda, the DR Congo and the Central African Republic – have referred cases on their territories to ICC. In addition, the Security Council has referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan – a non-State Party.
In Uganda’s case; The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen is currently being heard before Pre-Trial Chamber II. In this case, five warrants of arrest have been issued against the five top members of the Lords Resistance Army. Following the confirmed death of Mr Lukwiya, the proceedings against him were terminated. The four are still at large.
For DR Congo, there are three cases: The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo; The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda; and The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. Two cases are at the pre-trial stage, while the proceedings against Lubanga are at the trial stage. Lubanga, Katanga and Ngudjolo are in the ICC custody. Ntaganda is still at large.
In Darfur, there are three cases before Pre-Trial Chamber I: The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad Harun (“Ahmad Harun”) and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”); The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and suspect Bahr Idriss Abu Garda appeared voluntarily for the first time before Pre-Trial Chamber I on 18 May 2009. He is not in custody. The three other suspects remain at large.
In the Central African Republic, the case; The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is at the pre-trial stage and is currently being heard before Pre-Trial Chamber II.
Profile: Luis Moreno-Ocampo
Luis Moreno-Ocampo was born on June 4th, 1952 in Argentine. A lawyer by training, Ocampo has been Prosecutor of the ICC since June 16th 2003. He previously worked as a prosecutor in Argentina, combating corruption and prosecuting human rights abuses by senior military officials.
Ocampo graduated from the University of Buenos Aires Law School in 1978. From 1980 to 1984 he worked as a law clerk in the office of the Solicitor General.
1984-1992, Ocampo was a prosecutor in Argentina. He first came to public attention in 1985, as Assistant Prosecutor in the “Trial of the Juntas.” The first time since the Nuremberg Trials those senior military commanders were prosecuted for mass killings. Nine senior commanders, including three former heads of state, were prosecuted and five of them were convicted.
He served as District Attorney for the Federal Circuit of the City of Buenos Aires 1987-1992 during which time he prosecuted the military commanders responsible for the Falklands War. In 1987, he helped USA prosecutors extradite Gen. Guillermo Suárez Mason to Argentina.
He resigned in 1992 and established a private law firm, Moreno-Ocampo & Wortman Jofre. He represented the victims in extradition proceedings against Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, and also in the trial of the murderer of Chilean General Carlos Prats.
Press release just in, 18.17 hrs (Ugandan time) 25 July 2009:
ACHOLA – 800M NATIONAL CHAMPION IN PERSONAL BEST TIME + STORMING 400M RELAY LEG
800M FINAL Despite running an 800m heat (in 2 min 12 sec) about 3 hours before, Achola Janet set a blistering pace in the Final which she won in 2 min 6.1 sec, a new personal best time.
The full results were:
1. Achola Janet (Prisons) 2 min 06.1 sec 2. Annet Nekesa (Standard High) 2 min 08.6 sec 3. Chepkwemoi Gladys (Standard High) 2 min 10.4 sec 4. Anzazi Lilian (Ndejje University) 2 min 14.8 sec 5. Esther Opio (UPDF) 2 min 16.2 sec 6. Catherine Webombesa (UPDF) 2 min 16.5 sec 7. Lubagu Margaret (Gombe SS) 2 min 19.4 sec 8. Emily Chebet (UPDF) DNF
Achola’s coaches, Kevin and Sue O’Connor, commented: “There are many ways to win an 800m. Today, Janet destroyed the field from the front by a sustained piece of front-running. While the improvement in her PB was only by one-tenth of a second, any middle distance athletics coach will realise that with a fast heat just a couple of hours before, Janet is capable of significantly improving her PB this season. And after today’s Final, she ran a superb last leg of the 4 x 400m relay, closed a gap of around 15 metres on the 2 teams ahead, to secure victory for a jubilant Prisons team.”
”Both she and ourselves realised at the beginning of this season that the 2009 World Championships 800m qualifying time (2 min 01.3 sec) was not possible for her this year. But we are now extremely confident that she will achieve these required qualifying standards for the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games.”
”Today’s excellent National Championships follows shortly after Achola’s equally encouraging races at the recent World University Championships.”
(Gulu) - A statement by Mr Joachim Chissano, the outgoing UN Secretary General’s envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) affected areas, recommending that both the peaceful and military option be pursued to end the conflict in northern Uganda has received round condemnation from a local religious group.
The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) yesterday released a press statement signed by its chairperson, Arch Bishop John Baptist Odama and his vice Alhajji Musa Khelil, saying the military option still being recommended by Mr Chissano failed to bring peace for over two decades.
“We respect the final recommendations which Mr Chissano presented to the Security Council however, as religious leaders, we always stand upon the principles of non-violence and dialogue to resolve conflicts,” ARLPI said in the statement.
The former Mozambique President briefed the UN Security Council on his final observations and recommendations regarding the state of the peace process between the government of Uganda and the LRA on July 15.
In the statement, the members said, while they appreciate the multiple consultations Chissano and his team conducted throughout the region, they do not want the region to recede to another war. “We do not have the confidence that any military action will bring security to the region but instead will only further destabilise the relative calm which we are experiencing,” the statement adds.
The clerics urged all the stakeholders to put more efforts on building trust and confidence between the parties so that dialogue can continue to lead to the final signing of the peace agreement.
They further cautioned that military action could put in danger the lives of innocent civilians abducted by the LRA in Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic.
The Acholi religious Leaders Initiative has been at the fore front of pushing for peaceful resolution of the conflict in the north since its inception in the early 1990’s though the government believed that the military option was the best way of achieving peace in northern Uganda.
The Final Peace Agreement was negotiated between the government and the LRA, but the LRA’s leader Joseph Kony has repeatedly failed to sign the deal, citing indictments and arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as obstacles.
But the Security Council last week urged the LRA rebels to sign a peace agreement which seeks to end its decades-long conflict with the government.
(Kampala) – Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over the suspension of the mandate of the United Nations special envoy for areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army.
The mandate of the former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, who has been the UN special envoy for LRA affected areas since 2006, ended on June 30th.
Maria Burnett, Human Rights Watch's Uganda researcher spoke to Sudan Radio Service on Thursday. She described the likely impact of the UN envoy’s departure.
[Maria Burnett]: “Human Rights Watch remains extremely concerned about what the United Nations has done in terms of the protection of civilians who have been affected by the LRA in Congo, in Sudan and potentially in the Central African Republic. At the same time, we are also concerned about the warrant from the International Criminal Court and we hope that it will lead to Joseph Kony and other indicted LRA leaders facing justice for their crimes.”
She went on to say that there has been limited international action against the LRA and is calling on the international community to protect civilians from attacks by the LRA.
[Maria Burnett]: “We are looking to the Security Council and other international leaders. We have called on the United States for example to do more to protect civilians who are in the LRA affected areas where the LRA are continuing to commit abuses.”
According to Human Rights Watch reports, about 1200 civilians have been killed and over 250,000 people displaced by the LRA in the past eight months in southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sudanese embassy in Kampala to question Ugandan gov't over its stance supporting ICC Bashir arrest warrant
Here's a strange story. Anything to do with the relationship between Sudan and Uganda I find odd. Some days I can't help thinking that Ugandans are at the root of the conflict in Sudan, particularly Southern Sudan. From what I have gathered over the five years of blogging at Uganda Watch, Sudan Watch and Congo Watch, Uganda receives support from the U.S. military. Taking into account all three blogs, the common denominators appear to be Uganda and the USA. Clearly, Sudan has everything going for it but is being held back. Some very powerful people are stopping Sudan from developing and keeping the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on track. Who are they and why, after six years and miles of writings on Darfur, don't we know for sure?
(Khartoum – Zuleikha Abdul Raziq) - Sudanese government affirmed its intention to question the Ugandan government about its stance supporting the ICC arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir and its adhering to the ICC decision in case of Al-Bashir’s arrival in Uganda.
The question will be through the Sudanese embassy in Kampala.
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Ali Al-Sadiq said in press statements yesterday that the travel of the President is not linked with the Ugandan stance, affirming that certain factors dictate the travel not including the Ugandan President's statement.
Al-Sadiq added that if Uganda stuck to its stance supporting the ICC arrest warrant that means that it violated the AU decision, adding that all African countries must adhere to AU decisions and any state that doesn’t do that is breaking the African consensus.
Foreign Ministry spokesman concluded that the Ugandan regime should be reminded about their massacring of the Acholi people in Northern Uganda, before talking about justice.
Governmental sources described Uganda stances as swinging and undecided while warned of any intention to get out from the AU decision which called on all African countries not to cooperate with the ICC with regard to its fabricated allegations against President Al-Bashir.
The Sudanese Foreign Ministry is reserved in responding officially against the Ugandan stances but the Ministry spokesman had condemned in a previous statements, a similar stance of State of Botswana.
The Ugandan State Minister for International Relations Okello Oryem had said in a press conference, “Till Al Bashir comes here I could not tell whether he could be arrested or not”, adding, “Let us wait for Al-Bashir to arrive here and we will see which action will be action,” explaining that the said issue is up to the Inspector General of Police to take action.
The media in the area says that President Al-Bashir intends to attend a meeting on the international affairs called “Smart Partnership Business Conference”.
The ICC General Prosecutor Luis Ocampo said that Uganda has obligation to cooperate with the said Court indicating that the case of South Africa where the President Al-Bashir did not attend the swearing-in of President Jacob Zuma last May adding.
“It’s a legal obligation and a court decision and Uganda and South Africa and 30 other states have a legal obligation on the said issue.”
UPDATE: From Sudan Tribune, Wednesday 15 July 2009: Uganda president apologizes to Sudan’s Bashir over ICC remarks: SUNA -- July 14, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Ugandan president Yoweri Musievini phoned his Sudanese counterpart Omer Hassan Al-Bashir over remarks made by one of his cabinet ministers on cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his arrest.
UGANDAN rebel leader Joseph Kony will never sign a peace agreement so international efforts should focus instead on arresting him, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said.
The Hague-based ICC has indicted Kony and other leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) for war crimes in a brutal, two-decade rebellion that began in north Uganda but has spilled into south Sudan, east Congo and Central African Republic.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said late on Monday that past mediation efforts in 2007 and 2004 had failed and served only to allow Kony to recruit and re-arm.
"This is a fantasy, Kony will never make peace," he said in the interview with Reuters and BBC. "When he is weak, he goes for peace negotiation. Then he gets money, he gets food, he buys weapons and he attacks again. How many times will he cheat?"
Kony, a self-styled prophet, has said he will surrender only if the ICC warrants are withdrawn.
Following a Ugandan-led assault on LRA camps in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) late last year, the rebels have carried out numerous reprisal attacks on civilians, killing more than 1,000 and capturing thousands more.
"The retaliation shows that Kony has to be arrested," Moreno-Ocampo said. "They tried the Juba talks (in 2007), they offered him everything and he refused."
Uganda said Monday it would arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if he enters the country, an unusual stance after a summit of African leaders denounced the international arrest warrant against al-Bashir.
Henry Oryem Okello, Uganda's minister for international affairs, spoke after meeting with the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, in Kampala.
"It is a legal obligation for Uganda to arrest Bashir if he comes to Uganda," Ocampo said.
The government has defended the position taken by the Assembly of African Heads of States and governments in Sirte, Libya that no African country in the African Union should assist the International Criminal Court in the arrest of Sudan President, Omar El Bashir whom ICC has indicted for several offences.
This comes amidst mixed reactions over the decision African Union leaders made on the indictment of Bashir and follows earlier mixed reactions over ICC’s decision to indict Bashir when he is still a serving president of Sudan.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kuteesa has told journalists in Kampala that the decision African leaders made has been viewed by many people as a manifestation of lack of respect and support for the ICC Rome Statute by African leaders.
Kuteesa however says what the African countries want is for the ICC to defer the indictment of Bashir for 12 months like the African Union requested in February 2009.
He says this is to allow African countries to investigate further on Bashir’s case such that they can give their recommendations on his indictment.
Kuteesa says all these leaders are in support of the ICC Statute which led to the establishment of ICC, He says that their decision is in not a way of denying their support to the Rome Statute because the African countries were party to the making of the statute.
Kuteesa says the African countries are still committed to combating impunity, promoting democracy, rule of law and good governance in the same spirit of the Rome Statute like the ICC and not otherwise like it has been imagined.
While the Ugandan government's recent arrest of some 17 people allegedly involved with a shadowy group called the Ugandan Patriotic Front (UPF) makes dramatic news, one is left wondering about the validity of this so-called threat.
Rather, it seems like yet another grand diversion for Ugandans from the serious problems it faces as the much heralded "pearl of Africa," to say nothing of the government's inability to stop the real threat: Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army.
Further, this recent arrest of alleged enemies of the regime underscores the often stated accusation that Uganda's strong man President Yoweri Museveni is first and foremost a military man, not a politician.
The rise of this apparent new threat to Museveni's government is very related to the Kony and the LRA and Museveni's lack of action in northern Uganda.
Kony has been camped out in the remote forest regions of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since early 2006 (advance LRA units were there in late 2005), leaving northern Uganda a relatively calm and safe place.
To most observers, this would have been the perfect time for Museveni to move in and begin rebuilding the region economically, socially and every other way. After all, the Acholi people who populate the north have been outsiders at best and enemies at worst of the Museveni government.
What better way to turn your former enemies into your staunchest allies than to help the Ugandans who have borne the brunt of 20 years of Kony's war than to quickly rebuild, roads, farms, schools and hospitals?
Instead of a massive reconstruction of the north, Museveni's government has done next to nothing, and what little it has been done has been riddled with corruption and theft.
It is now more than three years since Kony has vacated the north, yet little has been done to improve the north and even less is on the horizon.
The frustration in the north with Museveni's government grows every day as residents now face drought conditions in the north, which means fewer crops and higher food prices.
What else would any reasonable person expect to happen when news breaks that yet another rebel group may be forming in the north to challenge Museveni's government?
Rumors of this and other shadowy rebels groups are not uncommon in the north as well as other places in Uganda where citizens have been left out of the mainstream of Uganda political and economic life.
And also not uncommon is Museveni's reaction, which is to arrest the alleged conspirators and toss them in prison.
While it is certainly a concern for the government, the repeated surfacing of such groups, in particular this one in northern Uganda, should be seen as a wake-up call for Museveni, rather than a serious threat.