- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, disagrees with the Ugandan government’s belief that the 16-year rebellion in that country can be resolved through force.

Rory Anderson, a World Vision senior policy adviser for Africa, said in an interview with The Washington Times that the “devastation visited upon children in the north does not allow the luxury of a prolonged military campaign.”

She called on the world community to “lean on the government of President Yoweri Museveni to reach agreement with Joseph Kony,” who leads the long rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

At an April 7 panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, Miss Anderson and other panelists, including Sen. San Brownback, Kansas Republican, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat, and Trish Katyoka, Africa advocacy director of Amnesty International, called on President Bush to exert greater efforts to end the northern Uganda conflict.

World Vision contends that the Bush administration “has all but ignored this forgotten war.”

“Where else in the world is war being waged by children abducted by rebel insurgents and turned into ‘kill or be killed’ mercenaries?’” a World Vision media advisory asked.

“Where else is war being fought for no discernible political end?

“Where else [do] children, afraid to sleep in their own beds, become ‘night commuters,’ walking miles to cities and unprotected camps to sleep?”

In a report titled “Pawns and Politics,” the nongovernmental agency said, “The war has left more than 1.3 million people homeless, has caused skyrocketing malnutrition rates among children and is costing more than $100 million per year.”

Mr. Museveni’s government entered into peace talks with the LRA earlier this year, then reverted to a military campaign when Mr. Kony’s delegation failed to appear for a scheduled meeting.

“There’s an impression being created that the talks are over, but they are not,” a World Vision spokeswoman said in a phone conversation.

Meanwhile, Uganda’s homegrown political opposition this week stepped up its campaign to allow political parties full participation in presidential and legislative elections.

At a meeting in Krugersdorp, South Africa, the Forum for Democratic Change called for international pressure on Mr. Museveni to end Uganda’s one party monopoly, Agence France-Presse reported.

The coalition also said it was seeking to create conditions for the return of its exiled leader Kiiza Besigye, who fled to South Africa after challenging Mr. Museveni in the 2001 presidential election.

“We have decided to tell the world that there is a problem about political activity in Uganda and to press for legal, constitutional and political reforms,” Mr. Besigye told Agence France-Presse.

Although political parties were allowed to exist in name only in Uganda, they were forbidden to field election candidates until the constitution was changed in April.

The Movement, the current name for the National Resistance Movement that Mr. Museveni led to victory in 1986, in theory includes all Ugandans.

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