Despite lingering concerns about the cost and scope of the mission, President Obama’s recent decision to send 100 combat-equipped Special Forces to quell the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA—a group of insurgents marauding around Central Africa—was met with a decent display of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill this past month. Senator Jim Inhofe is on board. So is Obama’s old nemesis, John McCain, albeit with reservations.
Kampala, Uganda—Pink is political in Uganda. But not in the way most outsiders think. This past May, opposition leaders in the capital of Kampala were targeted with firehoses that drenched them in bubblegum-colored liquid, dying their clothes and skin. Their crime? Attempting to hold an “unauthorized” rally in the city’s Constitutional Square. Since April, opposition groups have been leading an intermittent campaign called “Walk to Work” to highlight the country’s soaring commodity prices (food inflation recently topped 44 percent).
The month of February gave observers of African politics a curious case study in political geography. At one end of the Nile, protesters in Egypt were breaking the chains of autocracy through the revolution in Tahrir Square. At the other end of the Nile, voters in Uganda were preparing for an election that ultimately gave the country’s quasi-autocratic ruler, Yoweri Museveni, another five years in power.
On a hot afternoon this past May, I accompanied a small caravan of international diplomats to the tiny Ugandan village of Abia, set in the heart of the country’s rural north about an hour’s drive from the nearest town. For the better part of the past two decades, much of this area was in the throes of a now-defunct insurgency that pitted the country’s government against a group called the Lord’s Resistance Army.