251,287 cables indexed
Reference ID: 09KAMPALA587
Subject: UGANDA: GAMES THE ACHOLI DIASPORA CONTINUE TO PLAY
Origin: Embassy Kampala, Uganda Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Created:11 Jun 2009 Released:30 Aug 2011
Tags: CG, MARR, MOPS, PGOV, PHUM, PREL, SU, UG

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 000587

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/11/19
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, MOPS, MARR, UG, CG, SU
SUBJECT: UGANDA: GAMES THE ACHOLI DIASPORA CONTINUE TO PLAY

REF: A. KAMPALA 504
B. 08 KAMPALA 743

Classified By: P/E Chief Kathleen FitzGibbon for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
).

1. (C) Summary: The Ugandan Government is investigating the
latest attempt by Acholi diaspora to mobilize support for a
new rebellion in northern Uganda. The arrest of low level
participants continues while the Government decides its next
steps, which may include a public outing of Acholi diaspora
spoilers. End Summary.

- - - - - -
THE PLAYERS
- - - - - -

2. (C) In early 2008, former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)
defectors identified Charlie Lakony (a.k.a. Rembo) as the
primary mobilizer for a new resistance group called the
Peoples' Patriotic Front (PPF). Rembo is a Kenyan-based
member of the Acholi diaspora who runs a non-governmental
organization, "Friends for Peace in Africa," and travels
between San Diego, California and Nairobi. Former Ugandan
Government negotiator Betty Bigombe reported that Rembo, who
calls the war in northern Uganda "genocide," was behind
various attempts to recruit disgruntled northerners into
anti-Museveni rebel groups. The group had begun stockpiling
weapons in the districts of West Nile. Government operatives
uncovered the plot and began a series of sweeps between
January and March 2008 that uncovered several arms caches in
and around Arua. These sweeps were reported in the local
press.

3. (C) Rembo remains at odds with the other major diaspora
player, Powel P'Ojwang (a.k.a. Ladit Balgara), who is an
Acholi businessman based in London with close ties to
Sudanese President Al-Bashir through oil interests. We do
not have any information on Balgara's current plans and
intentions.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
GOVERNMENT PICKING UP PARTICIPANTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) The latest plot was exposed when the Government
received a tip from the U.S. non-governmental organization
(NGO) Invisible Children regarding the location of Patrick
Komekech. He was wanted by the security services for
impersonating LRA leaders to extort money from government
officials, NGOs, and Acholi leaders. Komekech is purportedly
a former child soldier abducted by the LRA. Invisible
Children had featured him in its documentaries. Invisible
Children reported that Komekech had been in Nairobi and had
recently reappeared in Gulu, where he was staying with the
NGO. Security organizations jumped on the tip and
immediately arrested Komekech on March 5. He had a satellite
telephone and other gadgets, which were confiscated when
security forces picked him up. (Note: The satellite
telephone is believed to be one being used to call the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) with someone
pretending to be Okot Odhiambo with a fake defection plot.
End Note.)

5. (C) Bigombe, who has known Komekech for the past ten
years, said Komekech had confessed to being part of a new
anti-government movement in the north. Chieftaincy of
Military Intelligence (CMI) officers confirmed Komekech's
confession and said that the new group, which was previously
called the Uganda' Peoples Front (UPF), is now the PPF. Its
objective is to overthrow the Ugandan Government. Komekech
reportedly gave the locations of several arms caches in Pader
District with a total of 600 weapons. The group had begun
recruiting throughout the north, from West Nile to Pader.
Komekech named several former LRA combatants that had been
integrated into the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) as
members of the new group as well as other civilian
participants. The security services have been slowly
arresting these individuals and interrogating them. The
detainees have been kept separately, but all are reporting
similar information about the group, its intentions, and its
financiers, according to Bigombe.

6. (C) A Gulu-based "journalist", Patrick Otim, also was
picked up, according to press reports. Gulu Resident
District Commissioner Walter Ochora told P/E Chief that Otim
is not a journalist, but an administrative officer at a local
radio station. According to Ochora, Otim had long-been
suspected of involvement in anti-government activities.
Ochora reported that Bishop Odama, a prominent and
well-respected Acholi religious leader, had been implicated

KAMPALA 00000587 002 OF 002


as funding airtime for both the LRA and the new organization.
In addition, Odama allegedly had harbored some of the
group's members. The Government is considering its options
on Odama. Ochora also warned LRA defectors Sunday Otto and
Richard Odong Cao to scale back activities, such as
expressing disgruntlement with the government, which could be
misconstrued as participating in subversive groups. Otto and
Odong refute Ochora's allegations.

- - - - - -
NEXT STEPS
- - - - - -

7. (C) P/E Chief asked a Chieftancy of Military Intelligence
(CMI) officer on June 9 if the Government was planning to
charge Komekech and the others in court. The officer replied
that Komekech and the other low-level operatives will be
released. They allegedly have been cooperative and agreed to
reveal publicly the names of their supporters in the
diaspora. The officer said that CMI was waiting for
President Museveni to approve the plan to publicly "shame"
the diaspora.

- - - -
COMMENT
- - - -

8. (C) Several sources outside the security services say
that various Government officials may be overplaying the
level of threat posed by the rebel group for their own
interests. They claim the group is still in its formative
stages. However, its existence reinforces a widely-held
belief within the southern-based government "that the Acholi
will never surrender," which in turn reinforces government
suspicions about the north and Ugandan exiles.

BROWNING