24 February 2008

Peace Within Reach In Northern Uganda

While the Balkans may once again be walking down the long, dark path to war and the future of Cuba is on unsure footing, there is good news coming out of Africa.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Ugandan government have signed a permanent ceasefire in the longest-lasting civil war on the African continent. The war is not over yet, but this offers great hope.

Here's the text of the letter sent out by Resolve Uganda:
I know it's a Saturday, but I thought you would want to hear the news coming out of the Juba peace process as soon as we did. Today, the Ugandan government and LRA negotiators signed yet another landmark agreement, establishing a permanent ceasefire!

Since resuming last Monday, the peace talks have made rapid progress. Now that the ceasefire has been established, only one item remains to be discussed in the negotiations. We could see a final peace agreement between the warring parties as early as next week.

We can all celebrate this historic step toward ending this 22-year war. Our minds and spirits are with the people of northern Uganda, as we hope together that this may truly be the beginning of the end.

However, significant challenges do remain, and we can't get ahead of ourselves. There is no guarantee that rebel leader Joseph Kony will abide by the agreement and come out of the bush. Without Kony’s compliance, peace will remain a dream deferred for northern Ugandans.

Strong public pressure will also be needed to make sure the Government of Uganda lives up to its promises, and invests in the rehabilitation and development of war-affected areas. Communities displaced by this war need water, schools, and jobs.

That means our task is clear. To encourage implementation of any agreement signed, the U.S. and international community need to commit political support and financial resources toward implementing a signed peace agreement, including assistance in the task of rebuilding areas devastated by the war. That's the message 1,000 of us are will take to Congress as part of the Lobby Days for Northern Uganda on Tuesday. Even if you won’t be with us, you can join our lobbying push by calling your Senators that day.

We'll keep you up to date if more breaking developments come out of the talks. As today’s news attests, we are making a difference and change is happening!

Peter Quaranto
Resolve Uganda Senior Researcher

Of course, there is much to be done. Schools and towns need to be rebuilt, there must be some reconciliation between the government, the rebels, and the people, and services must be improved - health care, housing, water, you name it - go to the Invisible Children website for ways to be a part of the rebuilding process.

Rock on.