Earlier this month the Government of Uganda backtracked on the most recent section of the peace agreement, which in theory promised that a special blend of traditional and national justice mechanisms would be established to deal with war criminals on both sides of the conflict. The government is now planning to set up a special tribunal for LRA members but handle UPDF members through court marshals.
The most surprising part of the Reuters report was that conflict analysts are saying the LRA is being too soft in their demands.
In case you didn’t get that: conflict analysts are saying the LRA is being too soft in their demands.
Weird. For so long the LRA has been vilified from all sides — it’s odd to hear someone supporting their arguments and saying they should push harder for what they want.
Two weeks ago I helped run a conflict simulation for the participants at GYPA’s Immersion on youth, development and peace-building. As part of the debriefing, we talked about the multiplicity of actors in any prolonged conflict situation and the importance of recognizing that each actor has interests that, whether or not we agree with them, are legitimate and need to be addressed in order to build sustainable peace.
This is becoming increasingly clear to me as I find myself repeatedly siding with the LRA. Uganda-CAN recently reported that the LRA has agreed to discuss the release of abductees. They’ve been adamantly opposed to this since the beginning of the talks — it doesn’t make sense that they would suddenly change their minds, especially given the government’s alterations to the implied terms of the last agreement.
I’m worried that peace is becoming so desirable, and the top commanders of the LRA so afraid of punishment, that they’re starting to give in haphazardly. This bodes poorly for durable peace — the likelihood that LRA combatants will abide by an agreement made hurriedly and only in order to achieve something is slim.
I never thought I’d say this, but I hope that the LRA refuses to concede its positions for the sake of reaching a peace agreement.