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Uganda People’s Army (UPA)

The Iteso people of Soroti and Kumi districts are separated from Kitgum District by a narrow corridor through Lango and Karamojong areas. The conflict had existed in varying intensities and intermittency from as far back as the 1950's. The main players were: Karamonjog cattle rustlers; Uganda People's Army (UPA) who staged a rebellion against the government from 1985 to 1992; Alice Lakwena's spiritual/political rebellion of 1987-1988; Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) incursions in the Teso sub-region in 2002, 2004 and 2006; and government armed forces who participated in each of the conflicts by trying to re-establish normalcy and liberate civilians. By January 2010, about 200,000 people out of about 2 million who had been displaced in northern Uganda and the Teso sub-region were still living in camps

The Iteso conducted their own revolt against the Museveni government between 1987 (following major cattle raids) and 1992, allegedly with training and military assistance from Kenya. The predominantly Iteso Uganda People’s Army (UPA) was established principally by members of the former UNLA special forces. In that both were comprised principally of professional soldiers, the UPA was similar to the Acholi UPDA of the 1986-1988 period. Both Museveni’s NRA and the UPA in the Iteso conflict were known for their rough tactics with civilians. A July 1989 incident in which 69 prisoners in NRA custody were apparently purposely suffocated in a rail car at Okungulo railway station in Mukura Sub-County, Kumi District, is well-known throughout Uganda.

According to one authoritative source, even during the early 1990s, when both the Acholi and the Iteso were battling the NRA, LRA forces, during incursions in Soroti, inflicted atrocities on Iteso civilians. The LRA’s human rights conduct has worsened over the years, leaving it little appeal in this area. The conflict in Soroti and Kumi with the Museveni government was concluded in 1992 through the efforts of the Teso Commission, first formed in 1990.

It appears that the conflict resolution achieved in the Iteso region in 1992 has been durable. The majority of the Iteso electorate voted for President Museveni in the 1996 elections.

A militia group called "Arrow" was organized by the government and is fighting rebels together with the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UDPF) (2002-2004). Various reports refer to Arrow, also known as "Arrow Boys", (Africa Confidential 26 Sept. 2003, 3; Africa Research Bulletin 30 Sept. 2003, 15463), as a militia group recruited and trained by the Ugandan government to support the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) in their fight against the Lord' Resistance Army (LRA) (Africa Confidential 26 Sept. 2003, 3; ACT 26 Aug. 2003; IRIN 28 Jan. 2004).

Led by Mosa Echuaru and Sam Otai, both former members of the rebel Uganda People's Army, the Arrow group was initiated in June 2003 in response to LRA extended attacks in northern regions (ACT 26 Aug. 2003; BBC 28 Sept. 2003). Estimated to have 11,000 members (Africa Confidential 26 Sept. 2003, 3; Africa Research Bulletin 30 Sept. 2003, 15463), a 16 August 2003 Action by Church Together (ACT) report stated that Arrow militias are "volunteer fighters from the old Teso rebel army and the Uganda people's Army, which made peace with the government in early 1990."

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Page last modified: 15-12-2016 11:13:38 ZULU