Accessibility links

Ugandan Government Disputes Report on Failure to End Civil War - 2004-04-22


The Ugandan government has denounced a recent report criticizing President Yoweri Museveni and his government for what the report claimed was the government's failure to end the long-running civil war in the north.

A presidential press assistant, Francis Onapito Ekomoloit, said that contrary to the claims of the research organization International Crisis Group, the Ugandan government has been successful in protecting northerners from attacks by the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"During the first quarter of this year, there has been a lot of army success," he said. "There are isolated attacks here and there, but much of the LRA remnants are now in southern Sudan."

The LRA has been accused of indiscriminately attacking people in northern Uganda for the past 18 years. Its leader, Joseph Kony, once said that he and his group wanted to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments, but his motives for fighting remain unclear.

Several months ago, the Lord's Resistance Army was blamed for killing more than 200 residents of a northern displaced person's camp. According to the International Crisis Group, this massacre showed the government is unable to defend northerners and end the war, a blemish the group said stains the reputation of President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement party.

The report also accused President Museveni of using the so-called war against terrorism in the north as an excuse to avoid reforming the army, take away the power base of the northern opposition and curtail freedom of expression and association.

Mr. Ekomoloit denied the reports' claims. Regarding army reform, he said the government, with the backing of the United States and Britain, has been undergoing what he calls a defense review exercise for more than two years to make the army more professional.

Mr. Ekomoloit also denied that the government had used the conflict to stifle the opposition's power base or free speech.

"Despite the LRA terrorism, northern Uganda, northeastern Uganda, has not been excluded from all the elections that have taken place," he added. "It is also very true that people who say they are opposed to the president have the majority of the parliamentary seats in that region."

Mr. Ekomoloit says the government has not used the anti-terrorism law to wrongfully convict people. He says the International Crisis Groups' report was unbalanced and unfair to President Museveni and the government.

XS
SM
MD
LG