Sunday, August 08, 2010

Ex LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo to face trial in Uganda's War Crimes Court

Former LRA commander sent to war court
Report from The New Vision, Uganda
Monday, 06 September 2010
By Edward Anyoli
A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, has been charged and committed to the War Crimes Court to face trial.

Kwoyelo, 39, appeared before Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate Vincent Mugabo, who did not allow him to plead to the charges.

He becomes the first suspect to be charged with offences relating to war crimes.

“This court does not have the jurisdiction to take your plea, it can only explain the offences to you,” Mugabo said.

He was charged with 12 counts, which included willful killing, taking hostages, extensive destruction of property and causing serious body harm. The trial date is yet to be set by the War Crime Court.

Prosecution led by Principal State Attorney Charles Kaamuli said Kwoyelo in March 1993 commanded an attack on Pagak internally displaced people’s camp in northern Uganda in which several people were killed and others were taken hostage.

Court also heard that Kwoyelo and his men destroyed property and injured scores of people in 2004 in northern Uganda.

He allegedly committed the offences between 1996 and 2009 with others still at large in Gulu, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Southern Sudan.

URGENT MESSAGE - Shocking video of Ugandan terror group Lord's Resistance Army hunting children in Sudan

ONE of the world's most brutal terrorist groups, Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), is on the move from the Congo, terrorising civilians.

The below copied report from, Tuesday, 07 September 2010, contains a shocking video entitled "The Lord's Resistance Army Hunts Children in Sudan".

Click here (and wait for end of short advert) to hear Ed Robbins reporting for from Western Equatoria State, southern Sudan.

Please replay the video and listen carefully to a message for everyone. The message is from a deeply traumatised Sudanese boy. The boy's name is Moses. Moses was abducted, attacked, hurt all over, and stabbed with a bayonet, by LRA terrorists. The terrorists forced Moses to kill a young girl. The girl was aged 7 or 8. If he did not kill the girl, they would kill him. The heart wrenching message from Moses says:


Replay the video again and imagine yourself as Moses. The flat deadened tone of his voice is haunting. After viewing the report for the first time yesterday and working on it today at Uganda Watch, Sudan Watch and Congo Watch, I can't get Moses out of my mind. His trauma seeped into my bones as I imagined how he must have felt, what his future holds, and how he will think and be haunted for the rest of his life. I find this report deeply distressing and disturbing. I cannot understand why so many people are powerless when it comes to stopping the LRA. How someone like Joseph Kony manages to stay alive is beyond my comprehension. The stresses and strains he has gone through in his lifetime are unimaginable. A living hell, I guess.

See further devastating reports and photos here below.
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Balancing Counterterrorism and Democracy in Uganda - Tuesday, 07 September 2010
By Ioannis Gatsiounis in Kampala, Uganda

Photo: Mourners bury Alice Kyalimpa, a victim of the July 11, 2010, terrorist attacks that tore through a restaurant and rugby club in Uganda's capital Ronald Kabuubi/Reuters. Source: report September 07, 2010 "Balancing Counterterrorism and Democracy in Uganda". To view the report in full, click on the link above. If the report has moved, scroll to the end of this entry to read a full copy.
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More Ugandan PDF forces to be deployed

WES Yambio: LRA Raid And Kill 8 citizens
Report from South Sudan Analysis (SOSA online) - Monday, 06 September 2010:
(YAMBIO) – Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have killed 8 people during weekend raids in Southern Sudan’s Western Equatoria state, a local official said.

Around 6 LRA fighters attacked the market village of Rii-Bodo on Saturday, killing 8 civilians, said Lexon Amozai, State Director of Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Western Equatoria State.

The horrifying murders come in the wake of an LRA ambush at a near-by small stream of Nahua.

On Friday the rebels launched a similar assault on the village of Gangura.

“They killed 8 people there, among them two women. There were no soldiers deployed there, so they attacked the civilians,” Mr Amozai said.

A Uganda-led coalition including Congo and South Sudan launched a joint offensive against LRA strongholds in Congo’s isolated Garamba National Park on December 14 after LRA leader Joseph Kony again failed to sign a deal to end his rebellion. However, the operation has failed to arrest Joseph Kony.

In the same weekend related attacks were carried on Sunday at James Diko and Naakiri Bomas under Bangasu payam during a final funeral of one of the LRA Victims.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.

Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, state governor of Western Equatoria state with deeply sorrow and regrets expressed his dissatisfaction for the death of 8 WES citizens of Rii-Bodo on Saturday.

In a press statement, Col Bangasi said that, “it is painful to see such barbaric killings by the notorious LRA fighters on the innocent citizens of western Equatoria more especially as referendum gets around the corner.”

He called upon all the youth to stand up in order to provide security to the state from the marauding LRA and the state Government in collaboration with the UPDF and SPLA.

Security sources say soon the state government “will deploy forces around the payams and Bomas.”

Bakosoro assured the citizens that, “more forces of the Ugandan People Defense (UPDF) forces will be deployed around the most attacked areas of the Bomas.”

He cautioned the forestry department to ensure that “all timber cutters are removed from the forest of the state because it makes no sense for the LRA to be killing people leaving them (timber companies) unharmed hence some might be spices of the LRA.”

Meanwhile the Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies Colonel Wilson Sidigi said that he will ensure that support is given to the villagers’ security.

Sidigi promised that he will organize with the County Commissioners of Yambio and Nzara to encouraged the youth to stand firm as the security of the State is in the hands of every citizen of the state.
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LRA Kill Eight In Yambio
Report from SRS (Sudan Radio Service) - Tuesday, 07 September 2010:
(YAMBIO) – About eight people were killed in attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army over the weekend in outskirts of Yambio town.

The Western Equatoria state Minister of Information and Communication, Gibson Bullen Wande, spoke to SRS from Yambio on Tuesday.

[Gibson Bullen Wande]: “The LRA appeared between Gangura and a place called Baite, attacked the village and killed three people, so now we are seeing how we are going to handle it. Then on Saturday in the evening, the LRA appeared about 7 kilometers away from Yambio town in a place called Riibodoo. They came into the house of a chief with his in-laws. All of them were beaten to death and one person was abducted. So the total number of people that we have established to have been killed during the two attacks of last week has now come to eight so far.”

Gibson Bullen Wande was speaking to SRS from Yambio on Tuesday.
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LRA rebels kill eight in South Sudan raid, local official says
Report from Sudan Tribune online - Tuesday, 07 September 2010
By Richard Ruati - excerpt:
(YAMBIO - September 06, 2010) - The Ugandan rebels Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has killed eight people in raids over the weekend in South Sudan’s state of Western Equatoria, a local official has said.

The LRA, which is a sectarian religious and military group from northern Uganda, has a history of committing atrocities in the region.

It began as an Acholi tribe rebel movement seeking to overthrow the Ugandan Government. What it stands for now is a matter of debate but in 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first five arrest warrants for LRA leader, Joseph Kony, his deputy and three of his commanders.

Around six LRA fighters attacked the market village of Rii-Bodo at about 2:00 am (local time) on Saturday, 4 August, and killed civilians, said Lexon Amozai who is the state director of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Western Equatoria State. The murders took place after an LRA ambush at the nearby Nahua stream.

On Friday, the rebels launched a similar assault on the village of Gangura. "They killed eight people there, among them two women. There were no soldiers deployed there, so they attacked the civilians," Amozai said.

A Uganda-led coalition including Congo and South Sudan launched a joint offensive against the LRA strongholds in Congo’s isolated Garamba National Park on December 14, after LRA leader Kony again failed to sign a peace deal. However, the operation has failed to arrest Kony.

On Sunday, August 5, related attacks were carried out in James Diko, Naakiri Bomas and during the funeral of one of the LRA victims in Bangasu. [...]

Security sources say that the state government’s deployment of "forces around the payams [villages] and Bomas,” is imminent.
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Gulu victim

Photo: Gulu victim. The LRA use torture to instil fear. Uganda's rebel LRA has become synonymous with torture, abductions and killings. (BBC photo/Sudan Watch archive)


Photo: Two young boy's get treated for severe burn wounds in the Lira hospital in northern Uganda, 23 February 2004, after a massacre believed to be committed by the LRA in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the town that killed at least 200 people. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo/Sudan Watch archive)

Northern Uganda

Photo: Ochola John was deformed by rebels from the LRA. (BBC) Click here to read the victim's heartbreaking testimony published at BBC News online on 29 June 2006. If the report has moved, click here to read a copy filed on 30 June 2006 at Uganda Watch, a sister site of this blog Sudan Watch.

Photo: Leader of the LRA peace delegation Martin Ojul, left, is welcomed back home at Koch Goma in Amuru. (AP Photo) Source: Report from - Saturday, 10 November 2007, by Alexis Okeowo in Gulu. Excerpt:
Sixteen years ago, Irene Abonyo was held down to the ground and her lips and ears viciously sliced off by rebels in northern Uganda. But 70-year old Abonyo is in a forgiving mood. She attended a steamy, overcrowded town-hall meeting to see, on better terms this time, one of the world's most terrifying rebel groups, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). After a dialogue, she went over to shake the hand of a former LRA fighter. He held her hand, but refused to have his picture taken with the disfigured woman. "I will still forgive," Abonyo explains. "They are embarrassed of what they have done." Full story by Alexis Okeowo (Gulu, N. Uganda) published at on Saturday, 10 November 2007: "Forgiving the Lord's Resistance Army"
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Last month, Human Rights Watch said the LRA had killed more than 250 people in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the previous year and a half. It said nearly 700 others were kidnapped and forced to be either soldiers or sex slaves. Full story at Voice of America News (VOA) online, Tuesday, 07 September 2010: "LRA Kills 8 in Southern Sudan".

Photo: Southern Sudanese wait for food, shelter, security and medicine at the village of Nzara, along Sudan's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, on 18 August 2010. Thousands have fled their nearby villages since a recent series of attacks by guerrilla fighters believed to be from the Lord's Resistance Army. (Peter Martell/AFP/Getty Images) Full story by Alan Boswell (Nzara, South Sudan) published at on Tuesday, 31 August 2010: "The Ruthless Guerrilla Movement That Won't Die".
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Balancing Counterterrorism and Democracy in Uganda
Report from
By Ioannis Gatsiounis in Kampala, Uganda
Tuesday, 07 September 2010. Full copy:
U.S. President Barack Obama took office promising to make good governance the cornerstone of his African policy, and Uganda came to typify the shift in priorities. Repeated attempts by President Yoweri Museveni to meet with Obama were denied, apparently in response to Uganda's sluggish pace of political reform ahead of presidential elections in February. President Obama also directly challenged Museveni to lift his support for a draconian bill persecuting gays.

But just as the 9/11 attacks drew the U.S. closer to autocratic Arab regimes whose security services were needed to help fight al-Qaeda, so have the July 11 bombings of two Kampala nightspots by the Somalia-based al-Shabab militant group reminded the Obama Administration of Uganda's importance in the battle against extremism in the Horn of Africa. And that strategic interdependency challenges the U.S. democracy agenda. (See a video of the Lord's Resistance Army hunting children in Sudan.)

"Washington is now forced to do a balancing act," says Livingstone Sweanyana, executive director at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative in Kampala. "If the U.S. is going to work with Museveni on al-Shabab, the U.S. can't afford to see or treat him as an unfriendly force."

U.S. officials insist that democratic reform still figures at the top of Washington's agenda in Uganda. But as Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) has used the July 11 terror attacks as a pretext to shrink the political space, Washington's critique hasn't kept pace. Three days after the bombings, parliament passed a bill enabling phone-tapping. Weeks later, nationwide demonstrations demanding an independent election commission were violently suppressed on grounds that they could be exploited by terrorists. And the media have since been banned from commenting on the twin bombings. (Can Uganda forgive the Lord's Resistance Army?)

Following the crackdown on protests calling for an election commission, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson did say that security concerns were no justification for squelching dissent. Curiously, however, the previous day he told a reporter on the sidelines of an African Union (A.U.) summit in Kampala that Museveni had been "elected openly and transparently in free and fair elections," contradicting a 2006 State Department assessment that the polls had been "marred by serious irregularities." (See pictures of Uganda.)

The about-face may be driven by growing desperation. At the same A.U. summit, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that "ending the threat of al-Shabab to the world will take more than just law enforcement" and that Washington was therefore going to work closely "to support the African Union's [military] mission in Somalia [AMISOM]." Washington is looking to boost current troop levels from 8,000 — most of them from Burundi and Uganda — to 20,000. The problem is that few member states other than Uganda have volunteered to step up. Museveni, a former rebel leader, is reportedly prepared to mobilize that many troops on his own and has been leading calls to switch AMISOM's mandate from peacekeeping to peace enforcement.

"The U.S. is depending on Uganda to play a role in Somalia to rein in extremist forces," says James Tumusiime, managing editor of the opposition-leaning Observer weekly. "And in light of the attacks, the U.S. is probably beginning to think they're better off with a stable, functioning style of leadership in Uganda — someone who's not necessarily a democrat but a guy in control — rather than support change for democracy's sake."

U.S. diplomats in Kampala say much of their democracy-promotion work is low-key. One example is their success in persuading Uganda to put voter-registration lists online to allow the validation of voter identities. USAID invested around $2 million on democracy and governance programs last year, and that figure is expected to hit $10 million this year. Officials argue that security and democracy are mutually reinforcing.

But support for the key opposition demand of an independent election commission appears to be waning, says Wafula Oguttu, spokesperson for the leading opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Recalling Washington's silence after the recent suppression of demonstrations — in which 80 people were arrested and some claimed to have been tortured — Oguttu says, "The U.S. likely would have spoken out against that prior to al-Shabab." Now the opposition is anxiously awaiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's quarterly report on Uganda, due late this month, after Congress ordered the State Department to tightly monitor Uganda's election process. "A lot of bad things have happened since May," says Oguttu, and he expects the report to reflect that fact.

The last such report, issued in May, irritated NRM leaders, but prompted no constructive action. Indeed the party's primary polls on Monday were marred by confusion and allegations of ballot-stuffing. Opposition groups hope that Washington will use its leverage as one of Uganda's leading aid donors to press for change. But they fear the U.S. lacks the resolve to press the issue, leaving Uganda's election process heavily skewed toward the ruling party.

Challenges to the legitimacy of the electoral process raise the danger of large-scale political violence, analysts warn. Last September, riots in Kampala left 17 people dead after the king of Buganda kingdom was prevented by Museveni from visiting a nearby district. (Comment on this story.)

"We have shown restraint so far," says the FDC's Oguttu. But if the mechanisms for free and fair elections fail to materialize, he says, "we're going to have a little bit of trouble." He predicts the youth will grow more vocal and could target the destruction of election-commission offices. Meanwhile, the opposition is mulling the option of boycotting February's elections. Whatever the case may be, he says, "expect fireworks." And a new round of political turmoil, of course, is unlikely to help promote either democracy or security.

Find this article at:,8599,2016175,00.html
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Uganda Watch Editor's Note: A similar version of the above was published earlier today (Wednesday, 08 September 2010) at this blog's parent site, Sudan Watch and will be cross-posted today at its sister site Congo Watch

Monday, August 02, 2010

Business booms in northern Uganda as UK offers more funds

Report from The Observer, Uganda
By Moses Mugalu - Monday, 02 August 2010 at 11:13
Business booms in northern Uganda as UK offers more funds
The once war-torn northern Uganda has yet again received funds from the United Kingdom as efforts to develop the region intensify. DFID, the UK’s Department for International Development, has offered 16.6 million pounds to rebuild northern Uganda, and lay a strong foundation for business opportunities.

Jane Rintoul, the Head of DFID office in Uganda, estimated that the money will create 20,000 jobs, although such estimates tend to be conservative.

According to the memorandum of understanding between DFID and Government, 13 million pounds will be given as grants to boost viable investments in the region. Another one million pounds is to be spent on youth training programmes, while the Uganda Investment Authority will use the remaining two million pounds to carry out what they term an “economic recovery analysis.”

In trying to resuscitate the business potential of northern Uganda, government, together with DFID and other donors, is deepening a key market for beverage and palm oil companies, among others, which are part of the largest taxpayers.

Mukwano Group’s top officials were late last month in Lira and Oyam districts, dangling a Shs 20 billion bait to the farmers if they could double the production of sunflowers. Northern Uganda has virgin lands for the growing of sun flowers, which companies like Mukwano use to produce cooking oil.

Other firms making trips to northern Uganda include Nile Breweries Limited, which gets sorghum for the production of beer. British American Tobacco Limited also gets a lot of tobacco from the region.

Rintoul explained that grants will directly support the creation of new businesses and the expansion of existing enterprises in agricultural development and trade. This means foreign investors who plan to start doing business in northern Uganda qualify to apply for the DFID grants.

The Private Sector Foundation Uganda has a plan on how to take advantage of the funds. Gideon Badagawa, PSFU Executive Director, said they will organize farmers into cooperatives to access the grants. Officials say that under the cooperative initiative, thousands of small scale farmers will benefit from better market access, storage facilities for their produce as well as share knowledge on modern production methods.

Through their Business Uganda Development Scheme, a support programme, Badagawa says PSFU will also train farmers and help them add value to their produce before reaching the market. “We’ll use part of the grant to purchase equipment for farmers to add value to their produce, look for markets and impart skills so that farmers can sustain their incomes other than giving handouts,” Badagawa said.

While the funds from DFID are to directly benefit the people in northern Uganda, they have a wider implication beyond the country’s borders. Northern Uganda remains the easiest gateway into Southern Sudan, a place almost the size of Uganda with a mineral potential. Businesses, such as construction and retail services, are booming in Southern Sudan after security returned to the area in 2005 following a two-decade insurgence against its neighbour in the north.

Southern Sudan is also rich in oil, with companies from China already prospecting the black gold. With Ugandans scouting for foreign markets to sell their products, Southern Sudan presents a larger and more profitable market.

Rintoul said DFID has committed another 24 million pounds to construct residential houses for teachers and health workers in the region.

At least two million people who returned from the refugee camps in the region at the end of the war are engaged in agricultural activities. They mainly grow simsim, groundnuts, citrus fruits and cotton, whose products need value addition to attract better revenues.