February 6, 2011 (NAIROBI) – Weeks before presidential elections in Uganda, a spokesperson for the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army has claimed that the country is an army state.
The Lord’s Resistance Army, have fought against the government of president Yoweri Kaguta Museni - the incumbent in the election due on 18 February - for the last two decades.
The war in northern Uganda has been called the most neglected humanitarian emergency in the world today. For the past 23 years, LRA and the Government of Uganda (GoU) have fought a bitter war, which has spread into South Sudan, DR Congo and the Central African Republic.
A communiqué obtained by Sudan Tribune from the LRA’s peace team in Nairobi stated that the situation in Uganda remains unfavorable for free and fair elections.
The statement was sent by Justine Labeja Nyeko acting leader of the LRA’s peace team. It is unclear, however, what, if any connection, Lajeja, who lives in Nairobi, has with LRA leader Joseph Kony and the movements top command.
The statement said “unfortunately, this dream and hope to take their destiny in hand and control the affairs of their country has yet to come about.”
LRA rebels accuse Museveni of governing Uganda based on an “army state” ideology. The group also slammed previous presidential elections in Uganda as “sham.” The LRA’s stated aim to rule Uganda by the Bible’s ten commandments.
“The LRA/M is painfully aware that previous general elections, held under the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) regime, have merely served to legitimize the army state that the regime has instituted in Uganda since its advent to power in 1986.”
The communiqué further stated that despite the ritual of elections, the army state in Uganda has not won political legitimacy.
The LRA rebel movement can be traced to Alice Lakwena, who in the 1980s, believed the Holy Spirit spoke to her and ordered her to overthrow the Ugandan government for being unjust to the Acholi tribe. Lakwena and her followers, known as the Holy Spirit Movement, gained momentum as resentment toward the government increased. When Lakwena was exiled and no clear leader of the movement was left, Joseph Kony, who claimed to be Lakwena’s cousin, took control and transformed Lakwena’s rebel army into the LRA.
Labeja said the current political leadership and the army state of Uganda was a big obstacle to the realization of just peace, democratization and socio-economic transformation in the country in the interest and for the benefit of all its citizens.
The document further stated that the lack of direct participation of the people in the peace process and the non inclusion of their views expressed during public consultation in Ugandan. The statement also claimed the Ugandan government had bought off part of the LRA/M peace delegation in order to cripple the Juba peace process and stop its conclusion in a peace agreement.
Since September 2008, Orientale province in DR Congo and Western Equatoria in South Sudan has seen LRA attacks become more frequent and hostile, provoking military action against the rebel group.
In an unprecedented joint military operation, the governments of Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic launched an attack on LRA strongholds within DR Congo. “Operation Lightning Thunder”, the name designated for the counteroffensive, was largely unsuccessful in light of both the failure to reach top LRA leadership and the onslaught of violence that followed.