Politics, Religion and the Lord's Resistance Army in Northern Uganda


This paper outlines the current situation in Northern Uganda and examines whether conventional approaches to conflict analysis produce a convincing diagnosis of the causes of the protracted conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It concludes that the reasons for the war are multifaceted and do not neatly fit within any contemporary conflict theory without leaving significant gaps in the analysis. The paper highlights one of those gaps, the role of religion.

The paper draws on a variety of secondary sources and the author’s extensive work in Africa, including Uganda, between 1996 and 2008. The history of the conflict in northern Uganda and the evolution of the LRA are outlined. With no access to significant economic resources such as diamonds or oil, no environmental driver, and no clash of civilizations, the war in northern Uganda appears to confound much conventional analysis of the rationality of violence in Africa. Clearly the key initial actors felt that they had lost out under the new regime and feared that Museveni would seek vengeance for the violence perpetrated by an Acholi-dominated military. However over time, those involved with the initial drivers have become fewer, as the ranks of the LRA have become filled with younger fighters, frequently abducted and then initiated.


Working Paper No. 43, Religions and Development Research Programme, University of Birmingham, UK, 33 pp. ISBN: 0 7044 2782 6

Politics, Religion and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda

Published 1 January 2010