Commonwealth boss says no intervention in war in north

Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon has said it is not the organisation's place to intervene in Uganda’s civil war in the north unless requested to do so by the country itself or the UN.

“As far as peacekeeping goes, we don’t have our own battalions and we aren’t mandated to make any intervention ourselves. The decision to intervene is up to the United Nations,” McKinnon told journalists in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Monday. He is on a five-day tour of African Commonwealth countries.

In recent months stakeholders in northern Uganda, including members of parliament and a number of cultural and religious leaders, have been increasingly vocal in their calls for international intervention to help end one of Africa’s most persistent civil wars.

McKinnon said the Commonwealth would offer whatever assistance it could. “We have let [Ugandan] President [Yoweri] Museveni know that we are here to help in whatever way we can,” he said.

“The international community can offer support and assistance, but ultimately a lasting settlement to this problem can only be achieved by Uganda itself,” he added.

McKinnon said he had met Museveni earlier in the day and he felt confident that Ugandan government could handle the problem. “President Museveni gives me the impression that this situation is on the way to being resolved, especially with the peace process in Sudan now making so much progress,” he stated.

Uganda’s Foreign Minister James Wapakhabulo told the news conference that “resolving the Sudan question has a crucial bearing on Uganda’s long term security”.

“We have agreed on number of issues with the Khartoum government to neutralise the capacity of certain elements within the Sudanese Defence Forces to assist the terrorists,” Wapakhabulo remarked.