By John Harley
The recent Kenyan riots have proven to be yet another distraction in peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Juba, Sudan, as the two sides enter their 18th month of negotiations.
With the deadline looming for President Musevini’s Jan. 31 promise for peace, hope for the entire region could hinge on the successful outcome of the Juba peace talks. The LRA also has operations in southern Sudan, and it is likely that if negotiations break down, regions surrounding Uganda will be adversely affected.
John Prendergast of the Enough Project, a humanitarian group aimed at ending genocide in Africa, said that “[Musevini] will give it more time if it looks like there could be some progress.”
According to Katherine Southwick, an advocate with the non-profit advocacy group Refugees International, a functioning peace agreement can be reached, but will not come until after the Jan. 31 deadline.
“[Museveni] may still hold to the deadline, but it won’t prove workable,” Southwick said.
The Juba peace talks have been unstable at best since their inception in July of 2006. Recent blows to the peace process, including the defection of many high-ranking LRA officers and the assassination of Vincent Otti—Joseph Kony’s second-in-command—have made the possibility for peace seem dim.
Otti was the main driving force behind the LRA’s involvement in the Juba peace talks, and it was thought that without him negotiations were bound to crumble. Yet several organizations concerned with peace in the region remain hopeful that the peace talks will come into fruition.
With the defection of ranking LRA officials and continuing internal conflict, it seems that Kony has lost some of the power and influence that has allowed him to lead the LRA in guerilla warfare.
“Kony has painted himself into a corner,” said a spokesperson for Resolve Uganda. “He knows they’re going to have to come back to the table.”