Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Africom's Buzzword Dictionary, LRA & Acholi

Africom commanders (&State Department officials) love using fashionable and smart sounding buzzwords and buzzphrases when they explain their involvement in fighting indegenous insurgencies in Africa:
  • country ownership
  • the United States is engaged to support, not lead, the effort.
  • it is Africans who are best-suited to address African security matter
  • Military efforts to capture the LRA constitute only one part of a broader strategy, and must be nested within a program of civilian programmatic efforts
To keep it simple, let's start with the basics:
"Researchers who have studied the LRA say the group’s ideology remains based on revenge against Uganda’s government for past abuses on northern ethnic Acholi people."
Both Phil Lancaster (who headed predecessor of MONUC in Congo) and Joel Barkan from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington are very sceptical for several reasons:
  • A main partner of the U.S. mission is long-time and increasingly autocratic Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. (This worries Joel Barkan.)
  • “Unless there is a healthy relationship and particularly long-term peace, security and development in Uganda, it seems that the pursuit of the LRA will ultimately fail,” (said Barkan).
  • "He [State Department official Karl Wycoff ] doesn't know any more than anyone else what is going on inside the LRA... The important thing now is what Kony is actually doing and as far as anyone can tell, he is still in control and calling the tune the rest of us dance to."(Phil Lancaster:").
Dwyer Gunn, in an article dated 8 march 2009, adds some numbers to grasp the Acholi grudge and the emergence of the LRA:
"In 1983, 123,375 head of cattle resided in the Gulu and Amaru districts. By 2003, that number was down to 3,000. Amidst these abuses and the widespread looting of cattle and crops, opposition to the Museveni government eventually coalesced in the north in the form of the Lord’s Resistance Army."
In his article (22 december 2010) Todd David Whitmore describes Yoweri Museveni's strategy to topple Kampala January 1986. First of all we should note how it is identical to Paul Kagame's strategy toppling Kigali in 1994:
"if Museveni's objective was a united Uganda, he had the opportunity to realize the objective before he seized Kampala. Museveni did not overthrow Obote; rather Tito Lutwa Okello and his brother Bazilio Olara-Okello—both Acholis—did. After the coup, Tito became President, and it was he who tried to unify the country by extending offers of peace to the remaining rebel groups. The efforts led to the Nairobi Agreement between the Tito Okello government and the NRA in December 2005. Elijah Dickens Mushemeza writes, On assuming power in 1985, General Tito Okello Lutwa invited all fighting groups, including the NRA, to join together and form a united government in the spirit of reconciliation and nation building. The NRA did not respond, and this led to Tito Okello's Government seeking a negotiated political settlement with the NRA. This resulted in the Nairobi Peace Agreement (17 December 1985), detailing power sharing arrangements and the composition of the Military Council. All parties also agreed to a ceasefire within forty-eight hours including the UNLA and the NRA.2
Instead of pursuing a united Uganda, Museveni used the time granted by the Agreement to build up his own army, and a month later he seized the capitol. These are not the actions of a leader seeking to unite a country."
Todd David Whitmore adds three valuable observations concerning Museveni and the Acholis:
  • Museveni, as we will see, is a theorist of social evolution and an advocate of modernization.
  • The Acholi would be a drag on his new industrializing economy. As it turns out, he has developed that economy while leaving out northern Uganda—the poorest region in the country, with 42.6% of the population living on less than $1 a day
  •  the contradictions built into Museveni's presumed nationalism are not dissimilar to the contradiction in earlier stages of United States political history between the claim that "all men are created equal" and the reality of the exclusion of African-Americans from participation in governance
Interesting definition of the term modernisation.

Further reading: february 26 2012 In northern Uganda, a difficult peace by Michael Deibert and february 28 2012 Uganda: Acholi people face second genocide with U.S. troops in country by Ann Garrison. An older article may 15 2009 Uganda's Genocidal President Eyes Kenya by Milton Allimadi gives background and some idea of the regional implications.


Ann Garrison said...

Sure you mean 2005 in this statement?

"The efforts led to the Nairobi Agreement between the Tito Okello government and the NRA in December 2005."

Vincent Harris said...

mmm, he probably means 1985.