Unfortunately, the same government that aided and abetted LRA logistically swiftly shifted sides and allowed Ugandan Army to hunt down Joseph Kony and his group in hope that such appeasement of president Youri Museveni’s would persuade him to stop his support for SPLM/A under leadership of Museveni’s long time friend and classmate, Dr. John Garang De Mabior.
As a visionary movement with clear objectives, SPLM/A stayed far away from Sudan government’s deal with Uganda and continued to evade confronting LRA rebels so as not to loose focus in combating NIF troops. Of course, Ugandan government strategically knew that the moment SPLM/A controls the South, LRA would definitely loose their ground and will eventually surrender or become ineffective. Nevertheless, after tragic death of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, the new leadership of SPLM/A heralded a change in its tactics about whether or not to promptly evict LRA out of South Sudan. The new President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit called for a negotiated settlement as a mean of ending insurgency in Northern Uganda. Many analysts believe this change of heart resulted from possible involvement of LRA in assassination of Dr. John as well as reflections from hardships faced by SPLM/A when President Mangestu of Ethiopia was overthrown by a rebel groups, a change that almost resulted in total collapse of SPLM/A for loosing its training and logistic stronghold in Bilpam.
Although CPA accorded SPLM/A total sovereignty over South Sudan, the NIF regime in Khartoum remained hopeful for controlling elements of instability in Southern Sudan. The two key elements being Southern Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) under Paulino Matip and LRA under leadership of Joseph Kony. Though tragic, the death of Dr. John Garang miraculously stripped NIF of their hope to cause havoc in the South through SSDF. Consequently, they are now believed to once again change side in favour of LRA.
Speaking to SPLM agents who are currently investigating recent attacks attributed to the LRA, I was told that initial investigations reveled signs of NIF involvement. The newly constructed road, which was attacked, is viewed by NIF as a shift of trading activities from North to a foreign country, an economic transition that will eliminate a need for northern Sudanese services in Southern emerging strong market.
Recommendations on how to tackle the issue of LRA:
1- The GOSS must neutralize LRA by facilitating a negotiated settlement between it and Ugandan Government;
2- The military protocol signed by GoS and Uganda should be immediately cancelled to halt turning South Sudan into a battleground between the warring factions in Uganda;
3- Education of local population in Equatoria, particularly the Acholi tribe, to help in distinguishing LRA members from true Acholi of Sudan;
4- Giving LRA rebels a tranquility period of six months to deplore their options for peace or make arrangements to transfer their troops into another country. This tranquility period is conditional LRA’s cooperation not to launch any further attacks on Southern Sudanese civilians.
5- GOSS should remain non judgmental about the cause of civil war in Uganda
6- GOSS must exert equal pressure on both Government of Uganda and LRA to make peace without favouring any one side.
7- GOSS must make public and immediately report to the international observers any NIF attempts to derail CPA undercover of LRA.
Dr. Mawien Akot
The author is a staff member in Nuclear Medicine Department at Regina General Hospital- Canada