Betty Bigombe gets Dutch rights prize for peace effort - Daily Monitor

Betty Bigombe gets Dutch rights prize for peace effort

Wednesday March 17 2010

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: Officials lead  Ms Bigombe

WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE: Officials lead Ms Bigombe to the venue of the ceremony at the weekend. COURTESY Photo 

By Mark Kirumira

The Former Chief Mediator between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, Betty Bigombe has been awarded the Geuzen Medal for 2010 for her efforts to end the war in northern Uganda.

The medal which honours people who fight for democracy or against dictatorship, discrimination and racism was awarded to Ms Bigombe in Vlaardingen in the Netherlands at the weekend.

“The fact that this year’s Geuzen Medal is being awarded to Betty Bigombe makes it even more special for me because I lived in Uganda for several years,” said Ms Yoka Brandt, director-General for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Her work is a shining example of what can be achieved if you seize every opportunity to negotiate, even if it means working against all odds.”

Last year, the medal went to the Palestinian human rights group Al-Hag and Israeli organisation B’Tselem.

Ms Bigombe, also a former Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister is one of the few individuals that have negotiated with the LRA leadership personally.

This was between 1993 and 1994.
She again met the LRA leaders in 2004 to try to persuade them to return to the negotiation table.

However, since 2008, Kony has refused to talk with the government.
The war lasted for two decades, killed thousands of people, saw over 80,000 children abducted and turned into child soldiers, and displaced about 1.7 million people.

Who is Bigombe?

  • She is a former Uganda government minister and consultant to the World Bank.
  • Has been involved in peace negotiations to end the insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army since 1994.
  • As of 2005 she was acting as chief mediator between the LRA and government.
  • Has a masters degree from Harvard University.
  • Currently a senior fellow at the US Institute of Peace
  • Named Uganda’s Woman of the Year in 1993
  • Left govt in 1996 after failing to become Gulu MP