05 December 2008

LRA displace 70,000 in DR Congo

Kony chatting with Rwot Acana as rebels watch in their jungle hideout
GENEVA, Switzerland - The World Food Programme said on Wednesday it is extending its humanitarian operations across the eastern DR Congo, including areas hit by a conflict involving LRA rebels.

“WFP is concerned about a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Orientale Province, in the far north-east of the DRC (around Dungu), where rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have been attacking civilians and forcing thousands to flee their villages,” the organisation said in a statement.

“WFP is preparing to assist about 70,000 people who have been forced from their homes and live in fear of their children being abducted by the LRA,” it said.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in the two decades of fighting between the LRA and the Ugandan Government.

The area around Dungu is extremely difficult to reach because of both insecurity and impassable roads, so the WFP said it was opening a strategic air bridge between Dungu and Entebbe in Uganda which it would also make available to other aid agencies.
“There is also a possibility of using air drops to provide much-needed food assistance,” the agency said.

Across the whole of the eastern DRC, including Nord-Kivu province which has seen heavy fighting between government troops and rebels led by ex-general Laurent Nkunda, the WFP said it has delivered food to about 564,000 people in November.

LRA leader Joseph Kony failed to turn up on Saturday to sign an overdue peace agreement aimed at ending the two-decade-long civil war in the north.
A signing ceremony was to be held in Ri-Kwangba, a jungle town in southern Sudan, for the LRA leader to ink the deal finalised in April and already signed by the Government.

Civil and religious leaders travelled to Ri-Kwangba hoping Kony would turn up to sign the peace agreement.

04 December 2008

Orombi concludes Northern tour

Bwola dancers at Bungatira in Ajulu Archdeaconry
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi holding one of the many gifts during his pastoral visit to the Diocese

Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi has decried the rampant land wrangle in Northern Uganda. He said the problem is worst in Amuru district where he visited for three days. Delivering a sermon at Christ Church on Sunday, Archbishop Orombi appealed to the public to help political leaders find amicable solution to the land wrangles. He also caution the Acholi against selling the land saying the land has been given to them by God for them and future generations to live in. He said many people had learnt that the Acholi land is fertile and therefore need a piece of it. He warned the rich not to provoke the situation by wanting to buy big chunk of land. Archbishop Orombi concluded his pastoral tour of the Diocese of Northern Uganda on Sunday 30, December 2008

Meanwhile Archbishop Orombi has tasked the Northern Diocese Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng to explain why he was never received with royal bwola dance during his visit except in Bungatira.
Archbishop Orombi said Acholi have the best traditional dance and music in Uganda and was surprised to note that he was not welcome by Bwola dance during his visit. Bishop Nelson referred the question to Archdeacons of Keyo Rev. J.P Nyeko and Rev. Oyet William Willies who explained that it is pagan way to use local dance and songs.
Archbishop Orombi who is a guitarist himself appealed to the clergy to unbind the Christians to let them use sanctified local songs and dances to worship the Lord.

20 November 2008

Clerics in New Uniform

The General Secretary Bible Society of Uganda Mr. Henry Kalule hands over a clerical shirt to Rev. Jane Toodera

Henry Kasule, Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng and Rev. Joyce Lakot, members of the Bible Society and Clergy of the Diocese of Northern Uganda pose for a general photo after receiving the clerical shirts

As preparation for the visit of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda gains momentum, the clergy of the Diocese of northern Uganda got a morale lifting when a delegation from the Bible Society of Uganda donated Clerical Shirt to all of them; both retired and in active service.
The General Secretary Bible Society of Uganda Mr. Henry Kalule who led the team said “We as members of the Bible Society decided to offer the little we could to support our brothers and sisters in this diocese”
The clergy appreciated the gift and pledge their commitment in spreading the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They thanked Bible Society for demonstrating practically the Good Samaritan today. They also said the clerical shirts would make them appear very smart in front of the Archbishop who is scheduled to visit from November 24-30, 2008

11 November 2008

IDP close

Following the relative peace that has been enjoyed by the people in northern Uganda for the last two years, a good number are returning to their original homes. According to a survey carried out by the District recently over 80% have returned to their home in Gulu District. It has also been found out that those who are not able to support themselves are still in the camps the category includes; orphans, widows, disable as well as old people.
In another related development, some of those who were in the Lord's Resistance Army are finding life difficult, some of them cannot go back home for fear that the community may not accept them. Part of the reason for this negative feeling is based on some accusation of being involved in abduction in own village during the war. One of those I spoke to told me “our land has been taken away by some people I fear to argue with them"

Reports from Kitgum say, District authorities last week launched the phase-out of the internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps. This was to facilitate people’s return to their original homes. Speaking at the launch at Labongo Amida IDP camp in Chua County, the deputy resident district commissioner, Sylvester Opira, said the phase-out followed assessment and recommendations by the district disaster management committee. “In Amida camp, over 80% of the population has already left the camps near their home villages. The remaining 20% comprises the elderly, disabled and children,” Opira said

24 October 2008

ICC inquires on Congo’s Kony pursuit

New Vision Thursday, 23rd October, 2008

By John Odyek

THE International Criminal Court (ICC) has asked for the steps the DR Congo has taken in pursuing the indicted leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

In 2005, the ICC sought for the arrest of the LRA’s top leaders who were hiding in the DR Congo’s Garamba National Park.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ICC stated that it needed the information by November 17.

Kony and his top commanders have been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“On September 27 2005 the requests for (the) arrest and surrender of Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, were submitted to the DR Congo, following information from Uganda that the LRA had been based in that country for more than three years, specifically in Garamba National Park,” the statement read.

The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II noted that Article 87 (7) of the Rome Statute, provides that when a state party fails to comply with a request to cooperate, the Court may make a finding to that effect and refer the matter to the Assembly of States Parties.

“The Chamber ordered the Registrar to promptly transmit the request to the Government of the Congo,” the statement read.

Uganda referred the situation to the court on January 29 2004. The ICC prosecutor opened an investigation on 29 July 2004.

A Conservative-led resolution calling for Uganda to resume its efforts to bring Kony to the ICC was passed on Tuesday by the Members of the European Parliament at a sitting in France.

The resolution, authored by a member of UK’s Conservatives and a Member of the European Parliament, Nirj Deva, is critical of Uganda’s halting of efforts to capture Kony.

The warlord is accused of 33 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. “Peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved for the LRA’s victims until Kony stands in the dock and answers the allegations.

The Ugandan government and other governments in the region, especially the DR Congo must step up efforts to capture Kony and deliver him to the ICC, which will decide whether it is appropriate for him to stand trial in Uganda,” Deva said.

The UN estimates that the LRA has kidnapped 20,000 children in the past two decades, turning the boys into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves.

In April, Kony did not appear to sign the final peace deal in South Sudan.

02 October 2008

Wanted gang leader surrenders

Simon Wokorach the self-styled leader of the Tumbafu (Group of the stupid) unit that has allegedly been leading strikes in schools, terrorising teachers, raping schoolgirls and threatening the returned communities, surrendered to the Gulu district authorities through the Rev.Willy Akena on Wednesday 24, September 2008.
Wokorach, who has been on the list of the wanted persons by the security in Northern Uganda, came out of his hideout at the Sudan-Uganda border where he had taken refuge. Wokorach dropped out of school in 2005 due to lack of school fees and resorted to these dirty activities. He has been granted scholarship by Invisible Children for his education up to University. We have so many young people like Wokorach who drop out of school due to inability to raise fees and other scholastic requrements.

14 August 2008


strong>Marching during the launch of the NETSFORLIFE

Rev. Solomon Okeny climb the motorcycle as Norbert Mao (R) looks on

The Diocese of Northern Uganda together with Standard Chartered Bank on 9th August 2008 launched the NETFOR LIFE at Kaunda ground Gulu.
The Gulu Local Council Chairman V Norbert Mao while officiating at the launch thanked the Church for spearheading provision of social services in addition to preaching the word of God. Mao Said “A good number of schools and health centres in the district are church founded”. He applauded the church for being agents of giving instead of always receiving, saying there is more blessing in giving than receiving.

Mao appealed to other Bank to emulate Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) by giving back to the community. Mao illustrated the importance of giving by saying in the Middle East there are two water bodies: - the sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, both seas receive water from the same source-river Jordan but only Sea of Galilee gives out and that is why it remains fresh unlike dead sea that only receives but does not give out thus remain dead. Therefore it’s more blessing to give than receive. He therefore said Standard Chartered Bank will grow because of giving back to the community. He called upon other banks to emulate SCB

The Representative of the Chief Executive Officer Standard Chartered Bank said there are 300 million cases of malaria in the world, 90% of deaths from malaria, every 30 seconds, an African child dies of this disease, it costs Africa more than USD 12 billion a year in terms of lost GDP and currently there are no vaccines for malaria and none are expected in the foreseeable future.

The CEO representative said that based on these facts , at its board meeting on 22nd November, 2005 the community Partnership for Africa (CPA) Board approved an Africa region community partnership project supporting the distribution of 1 million specially treated bed nets for the next 3 years in 17 African countries, Uganda being one of them. He furthered said Standard Chartered Bank’s (Group) is committed towards the project to provide funding of USD 1 million towards the project over a period of 3 years (2006-8) or around USD 350,000 each year and leading the marketing and communication work stream.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda, Nelson Onono-Onweng said the Diocese is aware of the danger of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and life threatening Hepatitis E that has claimed the lives of so many people in Northern Uganda and committed in implementing life saving programs like malaria prevention by using all possible means to educate the community on the prevention of the communicable diseases using non cost means. The Bishop said one of the roles of the church is to heal her people both spiritually and physically.

Standard Chartered Bank pledges their support in the implementation of NETSFORLIFE.
A total of 6500 pieces of mosquito nets, 10 bicycles and a motorcycle were handed over to the Diocese of Northern Uganda.

The target group for the nets will be: - children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and the elderly and chronically sick (people living with AIDS)

06 August 2008

Government forgives top Kony rebel

Dr.James Obita

Government forgives top Kony rebel
Tuesday, 5th August, 2008

Dr. James Alfred Obita
By Milton Olupot and Charles Ariko

THE former leader of the LRA peace team in Juba, Dr. James Alfred Obita, was yesterday granted amnesty after 22 years of fighting the Government.

Obita said he returned because he believed in what the Juba peace agreement had achieved.

“After the peace talks, I thought I would set an example. My returning is not a betrayal (of the LRA cause). It is time to come back home,” he said.

Together with five others, two men and three women of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Obita received his amnesty certificate from the chairman of the Amnesty Commission, Justice Peter Onega, at the commission headquarters in Kampala.

The former ADF fighters included Silver Mumbere, Fatuma Nakajubi, Hanifa Nalukwago, Sularia Nakimera and Abdlazak Bassajja. They looked well nourished and smartly dressed.

Obita raised the number of LRA rebels who have benefited from the amnesty to 12,841, since the establishment of the Amnesty Commission in 2000. A total of 22,921 fighters from various rebel groups have benefited from the amnesty.

“My word to you is that you are welcome back to Uganda. Help us convince the others to come back home. The choice you have made is a correct one. Wherever you go, home will always be the best,” Onega told the six former rebels.

Onega, flanked by commissioners Ganyana Miiro, Thomas Kisembo and Grace Ociiti, explained that the amnesty exonerates them from any crimes they committed during the rebellion.

“I have always said this country is ours and everybody has a right to live here. If we have any problems, we can solve them here. I can assure you that after the grant of amnesty, you will be free people. Feel free and you are welcome to start life afresh,” he said.

A beaming Obita, clad in a grey, striped suit, commended the commission and pledged to work with Onega to help woo LRA fighters out of the jungles and end the 22-year-long war that has ravaged the north and eastern parts of the country.

“I will use my presence here to convince those still in the bush to return home. I will be the commission’s ambassador,” he said.

He added that the commission should be strengthened and facilitated to look after returnees.

The six received packages, including a mattress, jerrycan, two saucepans, a plastic cup and plate, a hoe, packets of beans and maize seeds and sh263,000 each.

Obita said President Yoweri Museveni had directed the internal affairs permanent secretary to help him recover $2m (about sh3.5b) that he lost when the Government froze his Uganda Commercial Bank account in 1987.

Obita said he was convinced that the Juba agreement was good and achieved what the guns could not achieve. He blamed some Ugandans both at home and in the Diaspora for misleading the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, not to sign the final peace agreement.

Obita said he wanted “to sort” himself out shortly before he could travel to his home district of Kitgum.

Commenting on the LRA former commanders, who returned through the DR Congo and are reportedly still held by security agencies, Onega said after receiving amnesty, there was no justification for detaining the former rebels.

“We were surprised when we received the information that some of these ex-rebels were being kept by security agencies. If you receive amnesty, that means you are free. If there are any other charges then they should be taken to court. Let this not confuse the public that when you get amnesty, you get detained.”

Who is Obita?
- Obita has been with the LRA for the last 22 years.
- He worked for the external wing of the LRA, based in Nairobi and London.
- Was the LRA spokesperson in the mid-nineties and later secretary for external affairs and mobilisation.
- In 1988, he fell out with LRA chief Joseph Kony, who accused him of trying to make money out of the LRA cause.
- Was re-appointed as technical adviser to the LRA peace team in Juba in 2006.
- Obita replaced David Matsanga as chairman of the LRA team in Juba on April 10 2008.
- He applied for amnesty in July 2008.

31 July 2008

LRA top official seeks amnesty

Wednesday, 30th July, 2008

By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

JAMES Obita, the former leader of the LRA delegation to the Juba peace talks, has applied for amnesty with the Uganda Amnesty Commission.

Obita, who was sacked as head of delegation by LRA leader Joseph Kony last month, confirmed that his amnesty application had been accepted.

“I have been told go to the Amnesty Commission and receive a certificate. I am so happy to be back home as a citizen,” he told The New Vision on phone yesterday.

His decision, he explained, was to demonstrate goodwill on the part of LRA members who were still in Garamba.
“This is not betrayal to the LRA. I still support the LRA and I will encourage them to sign the peace agreement and others to seek amnesty.”

The move, he hoped, would convince others who were still in the bush. “My decision will re-assure the LRA that amnesty is real and anyone can benefit,” Obita said.

“Some of the combatants had been misled to think that they will be arrested or tortured once they get amnesty. But when I informed them that I had been granted amnesty, there was a lot of hope and excitement.”

Obita, a businessman and lecturer in industrial chemistry, was optimistic that a final peace agreement would be signed by Kony.

“In my belief, the Juba peace process has ended successfully and it is just a matter of signing the agreement,” he stated.

“The issues that are still pending will be resolved once the LRA has understood some aspects of the agreement. That is why I decided that, after 22 years, I should come back home and stop fighting.”

For over 10 years, Obita has been working for the external wing of the LRA, based in Nairobi and London.
He was the LRA spokesman in the mid-nineties and later became the secretary for external affairs and mobilisation.

In 1998, he fell out with Kony, who accused him of trying to make money out of the LRA cause.

He was brought back in December 2006, when he was appointed technical adviser to the LRA peace team.

Obita replaced David Matsanga as head of the LRA delegation on April 10, the day Kony failed to show up to sign the comprehensive peace agreement. However, Matsanga was reappointed on June 6.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the LRA leadership, scheduled to take place yesterday and today, flopped because Kony’s demands for food, water and medicines had not been met, according to a letter from Matsanga to the chief mediator, South Sudan vice-president Riek Machar.

“The LRA high command directed me to point out to the world that without food supplies to the assembly area, the meeting in Ri-Kwangba on July 30 and 31 will not take place,” the letter, dated July 25, read.

Matsanga further called upon the international donors to continue funding the Juba secretariat, warning that failure to do so would jeopardise the peace process.

“The Juba peace process is under siege and there is a danger of it collapsing due to the lack of funding from the donor community,” he wrote.

He called upon the US and EU countries, especially Norway, Britain and Denmark, to review their policy on the Juba peace process.

The donors stopped funding the process following Kony’s refusal to sign the agreement. There was also growing concern about the lack of transparency in the spending of the Juba peace initiative funds, estimated at $15m.

Food supplies by Caritas were stopped recently after it became clear that the fighters were not assembling in Ri-Kwangba, as was required.

Instead, the food was collected and carried to Kony’s hide-out in eastern Congo, with some reports saying it was being sold.

Matsanga’s letter echoes an earlier appeal for more funds by the mediator, Riek Machar, which was sent to the UN Security Council through special envoy Joaquim Chissano.

In a 12-page letter, dated June 16, Machar pleaded with the international community to provide appropriate funding for him and his secretariat to “ensure a stronger and more effective response in implementation”.

15 July 2008

Govt rules out compensation for the north

New Vision
Monday, 14th July, 2008

By Josephine Maseruka

THE Government will not compensate the people in northern Uganda for property destroyed during the 22-year LRA war. The property includes houses and degraded land.

“It is sheer madness to think that we shall compensate people for such claims,” the disaster preparedness minister, Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, told Parliament on Thursday.

Okello Okello (UPC) had asked whether there were any plans to compensate those whose land had been degraded due to the establishment of internally displaced people’s camps and army detachments.

Kabwegyere was appearing before the committee on presidential affairs together with Prime Minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi and other ministers in the premier’s office to defend their policy statement.

Kabwegyere argued that the displaced had to be resettled somewhere because “we could not have put them in the sky.”

But Okello Okello claimed that the army bombed areas to threaten the people out of their residences, forcing them to flee to the camps.

However, disaster preparedness state minister Musa Ecweru said the camps were built where the army could provide adequate security and the people went there voluntarily.

“We never woke up one day and decided to set up camps. I hate such lies and that is why I left the UPC.”
Okello Okello retorted: “The UPC never put people in camps. Camps are an innovation of the NRM. Now since you left, can you return our card?”

Information minister Kirunda Kivejinja said under the compensation law, one is paid the value of what they lost. He added that the burden of payment must be shared by the LRA rebels and the Government.

Kabwegyere said the camps and army units were set up in open spaces.
In a recent study on land in the north, 73% of 1,119 respondents backed compensation.

Another war in Northern Uganda

As the LRA war gains momentum to end, we are yet faced with another war and this time it is no longer using expensive weapons but the simple so called love or lust. Although recent figures indicates that in the northern region the HIV prevalence rate is 8.3 % while the county figures is at 6.4 % , HIV is posing serious threat to human life in Northern Uganda. Recently Northern Uganda Malaria AIDS and Tuberculosis (NUMAT) in partnership with World Vision organized a sensitization workshop for clergy of the Diocese of Northern Uganda. During the workshop participants were asked to change their attitudes towards HIV and AIDS and avoid stigmatizing those who are found to be HIV positive. For some years now the Abstinence, Be faithful and Condom (ABC) strategy have been applied with some commendable results. But the Church’s position is that Condom can not be advocated for, may be the church should rethink. Another strategy adapted is Safer practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary counseling and testing and Empowerment (SAVE). The biggest challenge in Northern Uganda is access to treatment, even those who are living with AIDS finds it extremely difficult to first of all afford the antiretroviral drugs. According to Dr. Alex Coutinho who was one of the facilitator, the key drivers of HIV epidemic in Uganda 2007 are:-

• Narrow messaging
• Ignorance of HIV status
• Multiple concurrent partnerships
• Discordant relationships
• Lack of circumcision
• Urbanization
• Conflict
• Gender disparities in “bedroom empowerment”

When it comes to prevention, the vulnerable are key BUT important groups to target include:
MEN – who control most prevention decisions, HIV+ - to practice POSITIVE PREVENTION, GLOBAL LEADERS – to keep investing in current and future prevention approaches.
PUBLIC – to keep advocating for more prevention investments.
The next step after this workshop is for World Vision to sign Memorandum of Understanding with the Diocese of Northern Uganda, thereafter work together in this struggle. Your contribution is most welcome.

20 May 2008

Celebration of ten years in Ministry

Bishop John Charles Odurkami of Lango Diocese, Bishop Nelson and family cut a cake to mark 10 years in ministry

“Time has come for Bishop Nelson to leave the Cathedral and go home to look after animals ” This was said by the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere during the celebration of a Decade of Episcopal Ministry by Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng on Monday May 12, 2008 at St. Philip’s Cathedral.

The minister called upon the Acholi to follow the example of Bishop Nelson who is always calling people to go home. The Minster said time had come for Bishop Nelson to leave the Cathedral and go home to grow crops.
Bishop John Charles Odurkami of Lango Diocese, Bishop Nelson and family cut a cake to mark 10 years in ministry “Bishop Nelson will be out of the Cathedral where he has been for 10 years to the village where he can grow food and live a normal life”. Kabwegyere said
The minister said Bishop Nelson himself will be an example to all. He has been calling people to go home now not only metaphysically but physically.

Bishop John Charles Odurkami of Lango Diocese who was the main celebrant said a bishop cannot work alone. Incase of errors all the clergy and Christians must be held accountable and accept.
Bishop Charles cautions the clergy of the Diocese of Northern Uganda from campaigning to become the next Bishop.

Bishop Nelson commended all who supported him during his tenure of office.

22 April 2008

Future of Children

Two heads are better than one: The Municipal Education Officer Mr. Omona Darlington Akongo (L) exchange ideas with Elsebeth Højgaard during the graduation ceremony. Photo By Willy Akena
Women Development Centre Graduants welcome the Guest of Honour. Photo by Rev.Willy Akena

Ululations filled the air in the Diocesan Headquarters as 73 graduants from Women Development Centre complete a one year course in tailoring. While officiating the function the visiting Danish national Ms Elsebeth Højgaard applauded the girls for enduring. “I want to thank you for the warm welcome, wonderful performance and for making it to your graduation”. Elsebeth said.
Two heads are better than one: The Municipal Education Officer Mr. Omona Darlington Akongo (L) exchange ideas with Elsebeth Højgaard during the graduation ceremony.Elsebeth congratulated the girls for their determination despite the many challenges that they faced before and during their training. She said in her country- Denmark people are not suffering like those in Northern Uganda because of a very strong social system in place. Elsebeth was blissful to note that although people here are suffering the spirit of togetherness is very strong unlike in her country where so many people are lonely. Elsebeth concluded by urging the girls to make proper use of the friends that they developed while at school and be creative in order to have a future.
Representing the Municipal Education Officer was Mr. Darlington who challenged the Mothers’ Union to explore more opportunities for the girls instead of the traditional tailoring course being offered. Darlington said “I appeal to the Mothers’ Union to look beyond the Tailoring training being offered” “Time has come for us to diversify the training obtainable to include: - Computer skills, Human Rights, Peace Education, and Business skills among others.
One of the Girls who graduated could not hide her joy, she said “Today I have started the road to self reliance I can now see a future for my children”
The four best students were given sewing machines for kick starting their professional life.
The girls were issued certificate.

11 April 2008

Kony delays to sign the deal

As we move towards the end of the peace talk, the road needs patience, let us learn from the two big wings in the picture, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda(L) and Riek Machar(R).

By Milton Olupot
in Ri-Kwangba, Sudan

LRA chief Joseph Kony yesterday refused to sign the final peace agreement, demanding clarification of two issues in the document.

Kony wants more explanation on mato-oput (Acholi traditional justice) and the operation of the special division of the High Court that is to prosecute rebel fighters, chief mediator Dr. Riek Machar told journalists at the Congo-Sudan border town of Ri-Kwangba, the venue for the signing.

“It looks like we are not going to have a signature today,” Machar announced late in the afternoon as dignitaries waited in the bush for Kony’s arrival.

Speaking through his main man Nyekorach Matsanga, Kony said he could sign the document today or tomorrow once he is clear on the two issues. Kony, who was said to be in the vicinity, had travelled from the Central African Republic where he recently relocated.

Machar immediately dispatched Acholi traditional and religious leaders along with Matsanga to meet Kony in the Ri-Kwangba bushes and brief him.

The two sides have already agreed that “minor crimes” committed by rebels during the war be tried under mato-oput and “serious crimes” by the special High Court division.

“If Kony requires an explanation, that’s absolutely legitimate. We are happy he is willing to continue dialogue and seek clarification because it’s a matter that deals with his fate,” said the chief government negotiator, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

No one should be blamed for Kony’s delay to sign the peace agreement, he noted, because both sides had played their part.

“It’s our target to get total peace. The peace process is advancing.”
Rugunda’s deputy at the talks, international relations minister Okello Oryem said by braving the forested region from the CAR, Kony had demonstrated his commitment to peace.

A white tent with plastic chairs and tables will serve as the venue for signing ceremony when, or if, Kony shows up today.

Diplomats, opposition leader in Parliament Prof. Ogenga Latigo, Acholi parliamentary group chairman Okello Okello and several Acholi, Lango and Teso MPs were among the assembled guests.

When Machar announced Kony’s decision, a huge dull cloud hung over the remote Ri-Kwangba village where security was tight.

LRA fighters stood guard with their AK 47 assault rifles. The Sudan Liberation Movement Army soldiers took care of the guests.

Kony, Okot Odhiambo and Domonic Ogwen are indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Signing the peace agreement could save them from the trial.

The Government promised to ask the ICC to drop the case and allow mat oput and the local courts try the rebels. But, the ICC insists the warrants are valid.

04 April 2008

Kony upsets Acholi leaders

Children beleived to be with Kony up to now. FIle Photo

ACHOLI leaders have asked LRA leader Joseph Kony not make it a habit to continue giving excuses to postpone the signing of the final peace agreement.

“We have to exercise patience but Kony should also stop postponing the signing,” Gulu LC5 chairman Norbert Mao said on Wednesday.

“Many of us were disappointed with the abrupt message of extension up to April 14 because this is the second time they are delaying the process.”

Since Kony was the one who requested for the peace talks, Mao added, he must demonstrate that he was serious by personally signing the final peace agreement.

The chief LRA negotiator in the Juba talks, David Matsanga, on Tuesday said Kony would not be able to make it from Garamba forests to Ri-Kwangba, where he was due to sign on April 3. He suggested April 10 as the day Kony could sign.

“We agreed to keep our fingers crossed and avoid speculation about the failure by Kony to sign the final peace agreement on April 3 as planned,” noted Kenneth Oketta, the prime minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi.

“And this should not create a lot of anxiety among the people. Let’s avoid speculation which may derail the whole peace process and wait until it has been confirmed that Kony will not sign because so far, five agreements have been signed and this is the only one left,” he added.

Samuel Oduny, an elder in Gulu, observed that Kony was unpredictable, adding that it was not the first time he was “playing games.”

“Right from 1994 to date, Kony has not shown seriousness in peace talks. I have no hope for these talks. If he signs, well and good but I doubt,” he stated.

But the Gulu resident district commissioner, Col. Walter Ochora, explained that he got communication from the Central African Republic (where Kony is reportedly living) that the rebel leader was moving towards Ri-Kwangba, to append his signature on the peace agreement.

According to the RDC, the only rebel commander who had reached Ri-Kwangba was Abudema, adding that there had been poor coordination between Kony and members of the peace team on the date of signing.

Kony, Ochora advised, should have told Matsanga the exact date when he would be ready to sign “other than keeping people on their toes.”

But the district youth chairman, Christopher Omara, appealed to Kony to release all the children, expectant and breast-feeding mothers to show his committment to the realisation of peace.
By Chris Ochowum

25 March 2008

Northern leaders for Juba meet

Bishop Nelson probably points towards home, Kony is expected to come out after the signing of the final agreement. File photo taken by Rev.Willy Akena

Leaders from northern Uganda are due to travel to Juba for the signing of the final peace agreement between the Lords Resistance Army and the Government.

However the signing slated for Friday has been thrown in doubt with the LRA insisting they will not sign the agreement unless indictments against its leader Joseph Kony and his commanders are dropped.

The International Criminal Court issued the warrants in 2005 against the top 5 LRA commanders for crimes against humanity in one of Africa's longest conflicts.

Finger Print Syndrome

Coupled with so many other factors, the war in the Northern region of Uganda has led to much destruction in the lives of the natives.
In my sojourns in the camps in northern Uganda as opposed to other parts of the country, the vast majority of people cannot read or write. Even children of school going age cannot speak English, leave alone read simple sentences. Even children in high schools are almost illiterate, except for the boasting that they are in High school!!!
This poses a great concern for the future of the Acoli. What will happen when tomorrow when the educated are no more? How can the Acoli compete squarely in the job market when more that 75% of them are not getting proper education? Has UPE really met its goals in the last 10 years? How about USE now? What will happen?
Children complete primary school and cannot construct even a simple sentence in English? What is happening to the education sector in this region? I will not mention the results of PLE, “O” Level and the most resent “A” Level in this region. Every thing is pathetic.
It is even worse with the women in the rural Acoli sub region. We yell of empowerment and gender sensitivity yet out of 10 women less than five can write their names. And the rest, they must be helped to sign!!! Finger prints in the 21st century, my foot!!!
It’s not enough to cry out loud. What are we doing about the finger print syndrome that has invaded our society?

Prayer breakfast at the bishop’s house

O ye foolish Galatians (Amuru Leaders)! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified Galatians 3:1 was a quotation that the Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda, the Rt. Rev. Nelson Onono-Onweng made on Thursday 28 Feb 2008 morning during a prayer breakfast at his residence.

Amuru District Leaders were advised to bury their political differences and begin to serve their people. After one and a half years in leadership, they have spent time fighting each other over non substantial issues. It was time they begun working at making straight paths, filling every valley, leveling the mountains and hill, crooked roads be made straight, rough ways smooth, so that the people see the salvation of God.

Bishop Nelson urged them to listen to the crying voice “the voice of the displaced people who are returning home, can they be given a chance to return in peace, but the people will not have peace if there is no peace among their leaders at the District”.
Mr. Omac, the LCV Chairman acknowledged that as leaders, they had spent time fighting each other in the council instead of serving the felt needs of people and on behalf of his other fellow leaders, he apologized for all that had gone wrong. He promised that they would begin to work in unity.

27 February 2008

Bishop Nelson given send off

Mwaka George of Radio Mega hands over the gift to Bishop Nelson and Brenda Onono. Photo by Rev.Willy Akena

Bishop Nelson given send off

The displaced Christian of Nwoya Parish on Sunday February 24, 2008 gave Bishop Nelson a good send off gift of one cow at the cost of 300,000 and two sacks of groundnuts.

Nwoya is the third parish that Bishop Nelson has already visited on his diocese wide tour, the other being Bungatira his home village, where he received 260,000, a goat and one sack of groundnuts and Patiko Ajulu gave him one cow.

In his message the Bishop called upon the Christian to grow; physically, spiritually, socially and economically. Quoting from the Gospel of Luke 2: 52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favour with God and men.”

The Bishop called upon the people to leave the camps now and go back to their villages in order to farm the land and therefore come out of poverty.
On the LRA war the bishop said the war is over and that people should no longer have fear of LRA coming back to perturb them.

On the land issue the Bishop said, people should not be hot and bothered about the land being taken over by Madhvani but instead descend to work.

He also called upon the people to go back to where they came from before the camp life so as to minimize the land conflict that is so rampant.

08 February 2008

West Ankole Women electrify Gulu.

At least 51 members of the Mothers’ Union from the Diocese of West Ankole are in the diocese of Northern Uganda for a four days solidarity visit. The team is led by the Wife of the Bishop of West Ankole Mrs. Ellyvaida Nshemeire Katonene. The team was welcomed by excited members of the Mothers Union from the Diocese of Northern Uganda and Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng.

The team is expected to visit camps of the Displaced People in Northern Uganda and have time to pray with their counterpart in various churches on Sunday before they travel back on Monday.

In her message to the women in Northern Uganda, the Mothers Union President of West Ankole Mrs. Ellyvaida said, “I want to encourage them to work as one body and if they are together they will forget the past and look for the future. God is with them.”

The team brought a number of items that includes more than 10 sacks of old clothes, millet and maize flour.

The situation in Gulu at the moment is of relative peace due to the ongoing peace talk in Juba and a good number of the displaced persons are leaving the camps for their original villages after 21 years. The need to resettle them is huge, we appeal to well-wishers to come in and give a helping hand.

02 January 2008

Cleric appeal to Kony

Religious leaders march through Gulu town before praying at Kaunda Grounds
By Dennis Ojwee

ACHOLI religious leaders have asked the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) chief, Joseph Kony, to stop fighting and resume peace negotiations in Juba. The call was made by the Gulu district Khadi, Sheikh Musa Khalil, during the end-of-year peace prayers at Kaunda Grounds.

Referring to last week’s reports that the LRA attacked a Catholic mission in the DR Congo, Khalil asked Kony to restrain his men from targeting civilians.

Other religious leaders present were the Anglican bishop of northern Uganda, the Rt. Rev. Nelson Onono-Onweng, retired Kitgum diocese bishop McLeod Baker Ochola, the vicar-general of Gulu Catholic archdiocese, Monsignor Matthew Odong and Orach from the Orthodox Church.

They also prayed for restoration of peace in Kenya following election violence and in Pakistan where the opposition party leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated recently. Ochola prayed that Bhutto’s killers be brought to book.

DNU Staff to Nebbi

Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng led a group of his staff to Nebbi Diocese for a end of year retreat. The team was warmly received by the Bishop of Nebbi Diocese Alfonse Wathokudi and his staff at the Diocese on 27 December 2007. The retreat took them to the famous prayer mountain.
The team of the retreat was Tranformation and the staff looked at their overall activites and how it can tranform the lives of the people in Northern Uganda, especially now that the process of return to original village is underway.