A new book critical of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni over the military crisis in northern Uganda is generating mounting debate. In his new book, former United Nations chief Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland claims President Museveni told him that peace negotiations between his government and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels is a waste of time, adding that it is only military action against the rebels that would end the northern Uganda conflict.
The stalled peace talks between the government and the LRA in the southern Sudanese capital, Juba are aimed at resolving more than two decades of a rebel insurgency. From the capital, Kampala, Uganda Minister for Information Kirunda Kivejinja tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Museveni has always advocated a peaceful resolution of the northern Uganda conflict.
“The president knew the character of (LRA rebel leader Joseph) Kony, and he knew that there is very little that would be able to come out of him in terms of the peace talks. So he was just being honest to them, and he has been proven by history that he is correct,” Kivejinja noted.
He said although President Museveni recognized the rebel leader’s ultimate goals, there was a need for talks to be held in order to bring peace to northern Uganda.
“You are not alone in the world and in order to manage any situation, you need to carry everybody with you. And maybe it was also necessary to carry Egeland on board because you have to pay some fees in order to remove some stuff in your head. That’s what we do to pay fees for our children. So this is the price,” he said.
Kivejinja said the rebel leader is a creation of opponents of President Museveni’s regime.
“I’m talking to you more or less as a person who knows the Uganda situation thoroughly well. First of all, Kony was not a force by himself. He was a creation of the Sudanese regime, and because they wanted him to assist in their conflict with Southern Sudan for fear that by our inclination, we would in that conflict assist the SPLA (Southern Sudan People’s Army). So we knew that until that one is resolved, Kony would not be able to be handled because he never settled in Uganda,” Kivejinja pointed out.
He said the military option against the rebels should be maintained when the peace negotiations with the rebels fail to yield the necessary results.
“What I’m trying to say is that it (military option) is the ultimate when all other means have failed. It is the only one that is normally used throughout history to bring up a new order. That is true, as you can remember, even to create the American order, for which every people are very proud that it is the model of world democracy. They had to rebel against the British. Yeah, they took up arms to create a new order. So in a situation, which has been crystallized with so many things, reason seems to be very difficult, and when it has got some people to support, then if at all, you have a good analysis of the situation. You know that ultimately that guy has to be stamped out somehow,” he said.
Kivejinja said President Museveni had to satisfy the demands by the international community for peace negotiations with the rebels to bring about peace in northern Uganda.
“Now, the question is that we have to satisfy the interest of the world and secondly, also that some of our people here who thought we are unreasonable. We are misreading the situation, and actually Kony is the most reasonable person and that he would be able to come to the negotiating table. So, we said, okay, if that is their wish, and then let it be. So we gave it a chance, and we are genuine. If it can be saved, nobody can really to take up arms when talks are options,” Kivejinja noted.