These atrocities come as a result of – and perhaps in retaliation against – the offensive not only from Uganda, but also from south Sudan and Congo. On Dec.14, the on-again, off-again negotiations with the rebel group – a source of frustration for the displaced persons in the region, for the Ugandan government, and for the international players – came to a head. The three countries united forces in an unprecedented joint ambush on the rebels at their base in Congo.
Justified as the offensive may seem, the timing was also politically suspect. Museveni has so successfully courted the international community, that 40 percent of the Ugandan national budget consists of foreign aid, most of it from the US. And Uganda has been nicely rewarded for its successes by securing a rotating seat in the UN Security Council.
Sometimes, however, maintaining a good image is more difficult than creating a good image in the first place.
With a new US administration that places an emphasis on human rights, it's probably a good idea to seem proactive.
East Africans have high hopes for the priority President Obama will give them, based on his ethnic heritage. And with a seat on the Security Council, it might be wise for Uganda to clean up its own backyard in order not to lose any of its good standing. Because its backyard includes Congo and south Sudan, it makes sense for the offensive to have been a unified endeavor, despite the historic rivalries in this Great Lakes region.
Of course, positive PR can't hurt any of those countries – Congo with its troubles in the southeast and Sudan with its hands full, as well. Sudanese Vice President Salva Kiir was able to exploit some of this positive PR in his meeting earlier this month with President Bush.