by Paul Bradfield
Thomas Kwoyelo awaits the start of his trial in Gulu, July 2011. Photo: Justice and Reconciliation Project
A few days ago, former Lord’s Resistance Army (‘LRA’) rebel commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, seemingly made a direct appeal to President Yoweri Museveni to be pardoned for crimes he is alleged to have committed in northern Uganda during the civil war. In an interview with the government-sponsored newspaper, the New Vision, Kwoyelo is quoted as saying:
“Having undergone various rehabilitation programmes, I have realised my past mistakes like any other Ugandan who erred.
I pray that the President gives me a second chance in life.” Kwoyelo, who is currently on a peacemaking and reconciliation programme, said he has benefited from the course and pledged to practice what he has learnt because it calls for reconciliation with God and the society he wronged.
“I am willing to work with the Government at all cost. Once considered for clemency, I swear never to go back to rebel activities,” he said.
This plea for clemency, and the timing of it, is intriguing for a number of reasons. But first, some background and context for those not familiar with the case of Thomas Kwoyelo.