Friday was sort of a low day as none of the scheduled speakers was able to make it due to reasons beyond their control. The speakers scheduled for the day were Jeffrey Mapendere and Betty Bigombe.
We had a phone conference with Jeffrey Mapendere who was in the Sudan. He spoke about ‘Reaching out to Rebels’. That it was important to first of all ‘set the stage’. In this one needs to know about the rebels. This includes but is not limited to their personalities,objectives, modus operandi, factions, sponsors, political or military structures and degree of local support. One also needs to understand the government side; in the form of ideology, governance style, allies, front groups and intelligence.
That as a Mediator (or third party so to speak) you are a peacemaker in every sense of the word. One has to consider what they want as a risk to themselves and others and as such weigh the benefits. It was such an eye opener from an insider who has been on either side of the conflict as a former guerilla and later as a peacemaker. I asked him a question about what in his opinion could have gone wrong with the peace process in Uganda. He replied that it was the lack of incorporation of the civil society in all stages of the peace process and that other peacemakers who had played a key role like Betty Bigombe should have been involved ab initio. He also noted that the timing of the ICC Warrants against the LRA leadership could have played a negative role in stalling the process. He noted that the international community needs to keep in mind that people have the ability to change.
The afternoon was supposed to be taken by Betty Bigombe (former mediator between the government of uganda and the LRA as well as former Minister for the Pacification of Northern Uganda) on Mediating with the Lord’s Resistance Army. I was asked to answer questions that arose after the screening of the movie ‘Uganda Rising’ together with Ambassador Oud-Abdullah, Un Specal Envoy for Somalia. It was such an experience for me being up there with such a great personality. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that. It was and is the highlight of the symposium for me; thanks to Cameron. But seeing the pain and suffering and strength of that woman whose lips and ears were cut off by the rebels reminded me once again how I was and still is a part of that history that needs solutions and action on the part of all of us who have or may have role to play to make atleast one life better. Northern Uganda is still very much a forgotten crisis and the signing of the still pending peace agreement will bring more that relief to the suffering masses. There is need for a concerted and deliberate effort to encourage education and infrastural development to bring it up to speed with the rest of Uganda. For God and my Country.
Lucy Ladira, Uganda