Hopes for peace in northern Uganda were dashed yesterday when President Yoweri Museveni threatened a new military offensive and condemned rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army for failing to sign a ceasefire.
Barely two days after Ugandan ministers and LRA commanders held a breakthrough meeting, raising unprecedented hopes for peace, a promised truce failed to materialise.
The LRA broke earlier guarantees and refused to sign a memorandum of understanding providing for a permanent ceasefire. The army then accused the rebels, led by Joseph Kony, of ambushing a military lorry and wounding four soldiers.
Mr Museveni responded with a belligerent speech in Gulu, northern Uganda’s largest town. “Operations will not cease ever again until the Kony group irreversibly commit themselves to come out of the bush,” he said.
“It is the rebels who refused to sign the ceasefire memorandum of understanding and that is why the government has taken the decision to start fighting them while the peace option remains.”
Mr Museveni’s words drew jeers from his audience. He is deeply unpopular in northern Uganda, where one of Africa’s most brutal wars has raged for almost 19 years.
Jan. 3, 2005
David Blair, Africa Correspondent