Cultural, Religious Leaders in Acholi Call For Truth Commission

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In short
Cultural and religious leaders in Acholi want government to setup a truth and reconciliation commission to foster peaceful coexistence between victims and perpetrators of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.

Cultural and religious leaders in Acholi want government to setup a truth and reconciliation commission to foster peaceful coexistence between victims and perpetrators of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.

The call from the chiefs stems from reports of revenge attacks that are being carried out on ex-LRA combatants and their relatives by aggrieved members of the community for crimes they allegedly committed while in the bush.

Jeremiah Bongojane, the Chief of Patiko in Gulu explains that setting up a truth and reconciliation commission will enable both the perpetrators and the victims to reconcile and live peacefully. He says there’s too much bitterness among the community towards the ex-combatants for the crimes committed during the 20-year-old LRA war in northern Uganda.

Bongojane says the bitterness can only end if the perpetrators appear before a peace and reconciliation commission to account for their alleged crimes before being reintegrated into the community.

Kenneth Oketta, the Prime Minister of Acholi Cultural Institution, says the absence of a peace and reconciliation commission has made it hard for ex-LRA commanders to reintegrate into the community.

Oketta cites former rebel commanders like Brigadiers Sam Kolo and Kenneth Banya, who have allegedly failed to resettle back in their homes after denouncing rebellion for fear of revenge from aggrieved members of the community. He says Banya has since gone back to school and attained a university degree but has failed to resettle back in his birth place because of fear of retribution.

The prime minister also says several relatives of the fugitive LRA commander Joseph Kony have been killed from Odek village in revenge for atrocities committed against his kinsmen.
The members of the clan of late Vincent Otti, another former LRA commander who was reportedly killed in 2007, are also reported to be facing revenge attacks over his role during the war.

Retired Bishop of Northern Uganda Diocese Macleod Baker Ochola II weighs in on the need for a peace and reconciliation commission. Bishop Ochola says the commission will enable both the perpetrators and the victims to have an interface which is part of accountability.

The Bishop however argues that not all ex-combatants need to be reconciled with the community. He says people who committed rape and murder should be brought to book. He says the ultimate punishment for rape in Acholi culture is death. He says only ghosts that are locally known as ‘obibi’ committed rape in their culture.

// Cue in: “Those who have…
Cue out…and that is obibi” //

Most former LRA combatants in Acholi have preferred to stay in towns where they feel safe than to return to their homes.

Mato oput, a traditional justice system has on some occasions been used by the local leaders to ask the perpetrators to confess and ask for forgiveness from the victims or their relatives.
 
Kony and his fighters are said to be hiding in Central African Republic.

 

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