2003 a tougher year
ahead of the Acholi people?

A crazy man can be recognised not by his words, but by his actions”

- Acholi Proverb

2003 a tougher year
ahead of the Acholi people?

President Yoweri Museveni’s speech to mark 17th anniversary of the coming to power in Uganda of the NRM government on 26th January 1986 has already been prepared and he calls it consolidating peace. This is supposing that Uganda as a whole is enjoying so much a peace that all the defense forces need to do is consolidate it. But often times when such speech as that of the 26th January is elaborated on a phrase “except for a few pocket of resistance in the north is quickly added. This will be so also this year because of notably stronger pocket of resistance in the same north. The northern population, the Acholi in particular have already seen no peace to consolidate in the first week of the new year 2003.

On the 1st January 2003 the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) carried out their usual raid on two suburbs of Gulu municipality locally known as Te-gwana to the south east and Pece to the east. In the raid the rebels abducted 35 people from a prayer meeting. On 8th January Pece location was again raided and this time the catch was 15 people. On the following day it was the turn of Laroo location north of the municipality. Twenty people were abducted. Many of the people abducted were children aged between 14-16 years. This is how the LRA has been recruiting its forces since 1990 when the mysterious Joseph Kony took lead of the rebellion against the then National Resistance Army (NRA) of Yoweri Museveni.

In Lapul parish of Pajule division, Pader district, the nation’s defense force the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Force (UPDF) has been reportedly beating up people who did not heed to President Museveni’s November order to leave their homes and collect in designated military camps within 48 hours. The Lapul parish LCIII reported that the army did not only beat up people but also burnt down people’s grass houses and cut down their fruit bearing trees reasoning that they wanted to deny the rebels food. In another location on the Kitgum Lira road, 5 people died and were buried in a military designated camp of Poranga in one day alone between 5th and 8th January 2003. President Museveni’s January 26th speech will tell the nation that the LRA will be defeated or to use the well known phrase, “they will be history soon”.

The Acholi people who are best placed to tell the real situation they have been subjected to since 1986 will not easily believe His Excellency Museveni. They have heard many such promises not only from His Excellency the president of the country but also from certain of his commander on the ground both in Uganda and in South Sudan. What the Acholi people believes instead is a tougher year ahead as they are now forced out of their home and denied cultivation. There is no certification that the rebels will be finished off in the near future if they continue to abduct children and forcefully recruit them into their ranks. If the army and their commanders stand from over the fence of Gulu barracks to see the rebels abduct and re abduct the children unabated someone will surely be history and who that is even the President does not know.

Many Acholi think someone does not want to end the war soon. The reasons are that if there was real will to end the war the many Ugandan troops now in Congo, Sudan and western and eastern Uganda would have been mobilised to combat the rebels very easily with support of civilians. The many Acholi boys who had been recruited as home guards or local defense forces would be brought back to fight on their own soil. Instead all these trained fighters are fighting other people’s wars elsewhere. If all the troops in Karamoja, Teso, Mbarara, Kinkizi, Rwenzori, Luwero and indeed in Kampala parading as police cannot be brought to a problem spot of 17 years rebellion then it is clear the president will still continue to add the phrase “except some pockets of resistance in the north”.

Museveni will live in Gulu barracks as long as he wants, the Americans have already paid for his combat food and drinks ration, mosquito nets, medical treatment, pairs of sandals, and bullets but the Acholi know they have tougher times ahead because they do not have the “Good shepherd” with them and their wisdom saying Tong loto co, "weaponry is the stem of manhood", remains the only anchor of life, not their president.

Submitted by Anonymous

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