Juba Peace Talks Community Sensitizations

LALOGI, GULU- Since 2006, Uganda has experienced relative calm as a result of the Juba Peace Talks. Although the talks in Juba directly affect the lives of those in northern Uganda, little knowledge of the agreements made has been made known to the population. To fill this gap, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) has begun to work with other stakeholders to provide such information throughout the sub-Acholi region.

On November 25th, 2008, ARLPI held a sensitization in Lalogi, Gulu. The meeting targeted various stakeholders such as the politicians, cultural leaders, religious leaders, and security people with the hope that they themselves would then transfer such information the wider community.

ARLPI programme officer, Ochan George along with Deputy Speaker of Gulu, Hon. Lumumba Patrick, and Rwot Otinga Atuka provided participants with a background of the crises in Uganda including previous peace attempts, as well as the various Agenda Items of the Juba Peace Agreement.

For calm to remain in the region, Rwot Otinga Atuka urged the Acholi to, “…desist from using violence anymore. Bloody things bring more problems. For instance the Acholi looted from Kampala but do we have any of those things now?”

Participants of the sensitization expressed their gratitude for receiving the information and say it as a positive step towards ensuring that accurate information is being disseminated to the public. “For too long have rumors been going around about what has been agreed upon and the state of the talks,” one participant said.  Another participant expressed that, To me I feel people should know the peace agreement and they should be encouraged to return home. Great fighters like Amin died abroad even Obote died abroad, Kony may also die there. People should return and work harder.”

Many questions were raised pertaining to the agenda items and how they will be implemented. Of particular interest for participants was the topic of Mato Oput and how it will be put into practice. Other concerns raised included the seeking of justice for all, weaknesses in leadership, and what will be done to ensure that the abducted that remain in the bush are returned safely.

ARLPI is currently in the process of conducting more sensitization throughout the sub-acholi region in an effort to keep the community abreast of what is happening and to help dispel rumors which have clouded the process.