Just a few weeks ago, a peace deal between the brutal Lords Resistance Army and the government of Uganda was as close as ever to being sealed. The peace process failed, though, when LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to attend the signing ceremony. Now, according to the invaluable Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Lords Resistance Army is once again gearing up for another fight.
IWPR reports that over the last few weeks, the Lord’s Resistance Army has kidnapped hundreds of children in the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan and transported them to military training facilities in lawless eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The LRA, is it seems, is once again committed to war, not peace. To make matters worse, the article suggests (and I’ve heard experts speculate as well) that the government of Sudan is backing the LRA in an effort to destabilize Southern Sudan, which holds a referendum on independence in 2009.
In an interview with The East African Enough analyst Julia Spiegel — who just spent a month observing the peace talks in the small border town of Ri-Kwangba — explains what can be done to reign in Kony. The interview is not available online, but a portion is extracted after the jump. What do you think should be done to Kony in order to salvage the talks?
First, a concerted effort must be made by the Ugandan government and key international players to press Kony to make a choice about his future. He can either sign the peace deal and begin assembling his LRA forces in Ri-Kwangba; agree to a third country asylum arrangement representing exile or banishment
from northern Uganda as a consequence for his crimes, thus removing himself from the battlefield and giving peace a real chance; or walk away from the agreement and formalize his status as a regional warlord, which will trigger a regional manhunt that will leave him on the run for the rest of his life.
But ultimately, he must feel a cost for his failure to meet deadlines and uphold agreements; he has continually rejected carrots and has faced no real sticks. As a result, Kony has been able to gain time, money and medicine out of these peace efforts without making any real commitments or deliverables. Now Kony must be forced to make a choice. But this requires an effective communication channel to be made between the government, the international community and Kony himself. If he rejects these negotiation attempts in the next few months, then it will be clear that all peaceful options for resolving this conflict will have been exhausted, and thus the international community should, with regional states and UN peacekeeping missions in neighboring countries, rapidly develop a containment and apprehension strategy focused on capturing Kony and the other LRA leader’s indicted by the International Criminal Court.
(Image viaDismal World)