Tuesday, May 30, 2006

South Sudan's VP Kiir defends $20K to LRA's Kony

Reuters report May 30, 2006 via Sudan Tribune - excerpt:
Sudan's First Vice President Salva Kiir defended giving aid to the wanted Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) saying it would help start peace talks and stop them looting and killing in the lawless south.

In a videotaped meeting in early May between south Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, and LRA chief Joseph Kony, Machar secured a request for peace talks and handed Kony a wad of cash saying it was $20,000 to buy "food...not ammunition."

Kiir, also president of autonomous southern Sudan, said the LRA had chosen the path of peace and approached his government to mediate talks with the Ugandan government. Kampala has given Kony until the end of July to stop the rebellion before talks.

"This is the only way to stop them from killing, from raping ... what is wrong with that if that can bring them back to law abiding citizens of Uganda?" Kiir asked reporters late on Monday night in Khartoum.

UN Mission in Sudan wants info on LRA's Kony

At long last, questions are being asked about who funds Kony and his terrorist group the LRA and how come he hasn't been caught yet.

Reuters report (Evelyn Leopold) May 30, 2006 - excerpt:
In southern Sudan, where the UN already has a peacekeeping force, [British Ambassador] Jones Parry said the [UN in southern Sudan] mission wanted information on Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.

He said he wanted to ask Kony "questions about his funding and how he manages without much hindrance to move as freely as he does."

Reuters last week obtained an exclusive video that showed Kony taking $20,000 in cash from the No. 2 of the ex-rebel Southern People's Liberation Movement.

The cooperation of the SPLM, a sworn enemy of Kony in the past, had been viewed as key to helping hunt him down. He had been supported by Khartoum during its three-decade civil war with the SPLM in the south.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lutheran church accuses South Sudan government of supporting LRA

The Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan has accused the GoSS of providing financial support and relief aid to the Lord's Resistance Army while thousands of people in southern Sudan are displaced and left without food due to its activities, the Juba Post said.

Bishop Andrew Mbogo Elia said the Lord's Resistance Army is even taking over some villages in Western Equatoria and settling thus displacing the original residents.

The Bishop considers the present state of affairs in Western Equatoria as worse than pre-CPA days.

The Commissioner for Nabanga County in Western Equatoria adds that the Lord's Resistance Army is settling and cultivating the area and that an airstrip has been established in the area to deliver food to them.

The Vice-President of Southern Sudan government Riek Marcahr has given rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony at least 20,000 dollars.

In a video-taped meeting on 2 May, South Sudan's Vice-President Riek Machar handed Kony the package that also included several tons of food rations which is understood to be facilitation towards "a new lease of life" for a much weakened rebel group. (ST/Juba Post) 26 May 2006.

LRA Joseph Kony meets SPLM/A Riek Machar

Photo: LRA Joseph Kony is shaking hand with southern Sudan's vice president Riek Machar. (Reuters)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pictures of the $100 laptop: 1st working model of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

From May 23, 2006 blog entry by Pablo Halkyard at PSD blog - The World Bank Group:
Pictures from the unveiling of the first working prototype of the $100 Laptop at the Seven Countries Task Force today. Green became orange, and the hand-crank is gone. Compare with Intel's sub-$400 entry and AMD's $185 version.
Note, at the entry a techie commented: "Awesome. I want one. What is there to stop gringos from buying them all to have their recipes on the kitchen or to use as poolside or beach laptop?"

Click here to learn about One Laptop per Child and view pictures of original green prototype with hand crank.

1st working model of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) on Flickr

Photo: 1st working model (OLPC) - taken at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2006; cameraphone upload by ShoZu - Uploaded to flickr by Pete Barr-Watson

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Refugee International urges UN to expand southern Sudan mandate to end rebel LRA

Washington-based Refugee International (RI) said the LRA attacks on civilians in southern Sudan are impeding humanitarian access, slowing the ability of refugees and displaced people to return home, and causing new displacement and refugee outflows, Xinhua/ST reported May 18. 2006. Excerpt:
"The UN Security Council should strengthen UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)'s mandate to allow it to disarm LRA combatants and cooperate with the Ugandan Amnesty Commission to repatriate them to Uganda, execute International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants for the LRA top commanders and protect civilians in south Sudan," the aid agency said.

"The UNMIS must be given a stronger mandate, more resources, and higher troop levels to protect civilians proactively," the RI said.

"We request donors, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, to allocate adequate resources to UNMIS for these new responsibilities," the RI added.

The agency's statement comes a day after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni offered another chance to the elusive leader of the LRA rebels to end the two decade old war.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Museveni gives LRA rebels 2 month ultimatum or face a combined force of Ugandan and southern Sudanese troops

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has given the leaders of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) a two-month ultimatum "to peacefully end terrorism" or face a combined force of Ugandan and southern Sudanese troops. Full report by IRIN via Reuters May 17, 2006.

Reuters by Daniel Wallis May 17, 2006:

Uganda will guarantee the safety of an internationally wanted rebel leader if he gives up his 20-year insurgency before the end of July, President Yoweri Museveni said in a statement released late on Tuesday.

Joseph Kony, the self-proclaimed prophet chief of northern Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) was the first target of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which last year issued arrest warrants for the former altar boy and his top deputies.

Experts said the ICC's move effectively blocked any further talks with the leadership of the cult-like group, notorious for slaughtering villagers and abducting thousands of children.

Diplomats said at the weekend the leader of neighbouring southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, passed Museveni a message from the elusive LRA boss.

They say it was Kony's first attempt to communicate with Museveni in more than a decade, and during a meeting on Tuesday with British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, Museveni said he and Kiir had agreed to give Kony "a last chance".

The statement from Museveni's office mentioned the ICC's indictment of Kony and four of his commanders, but added: "If he got serious about a peaceful settlement, the government of Uganda would guarantee his safety."

The vice president of southern Sudan, Riek Machar, met secretly with Joseph Kony two weeks ago and reached a deal to stop the group terrorising villagers in the south, Machar's office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"They agreed that there should be no more attacks on the civilian population in the south by this group and...to release all captives from the south immediately," the statement read out over the telephone to Reuters, said.

It also said Kony agreed to talks with Museveni with mediation from the south Sudan government and that Kiir had given Museveni a videotape of the meeting held near Yambio town near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

'HANDLE HIM'

For years, the LRA have used bases in the lawless mountains of southern Sudan to raid northern Uganda, where the war has uprooted up to two million people and triggered one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.

The LRA has no clear political aims beyond opposition to Museveni. Last year, a group of its fighters moved from Sudan into the jungles of neighbouring DRC.

On Saturday -- after attending Museveni's inauguration the day before -- Kiir briefed the Ugandan leader.

"The president said if Kony did not take up the latest peace offer, Kiir and he agreed that (Kiir's former rebels) the Sudanese People's Liberation Army and Uganda's military would jointly handle him militarily," the statement said.

Previous attempts at dialogue stalled early last year after the main rebel negotiator surrendered. The unsealing of ICC arrest warrants in October effectively ended any practical support for more talks with Kony, diplomats said.

(Additional reporting by Kamilo Tafeng in Sudan)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ugandan president calls for cooperation in Great Lakes

The newly sworn in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called for increased regional cooperation to ensure peace in the Great Lakes, AngolaPress reported 13 May 2006:

Museveni made the call shortly after he was sworn in for his third term in office at a colorful ceremony held at Kololo National Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala on Friday.

He said his country will continue to work with its neighbors to consolidate peace in the region.

The president appreciated the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan government for co-operating in the uprooting the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels from southern Sudan and northern Uganda.

The LRA rebels were using their bases in southern Sudan to launch attacks against Uganda but a combined operation between the SPLA and the Uganda People's Defense Force, forced them to flee to the jungles of Garamba National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"We hope the Congo government, the SPLA, the Sudan government, the UN forces in Congo and Sudan will work with us to capture the LRA remnants now hiding in Garamba National Park," said Museveni.

He said the Congo government and the UN must also resolve the issue of eastern Congo being a safe haven for terrorists and negative forces from the Great Lakes region.

"We are ready and able to help in that task," said Museveni, who also appealed to the African Union Peace and Security Council to get involved in the process.

"The region, working with Barundi Political Parties, successfully resolved the issues of Burundi that had been paraded as insoluble. Similarly, the problems of eastern Congo, Darfur and Somalia can be solved, primarily, by the respective African regional organizations," said Museveni.

The Great lakes region is characterized as Africa's most volatile area after millions of people have lost their lives and millions have been displaced from their homes by violent conflicts.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Uganda says most LRA rebels relocated to DR Congo

May 5 2006 Xinhua/ST report in full:

The Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) has said about 95 per cent of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in southern Sudan have relocated to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The UPDF 5th Division spokesman, Lt Chris Magezi, told Xinhua by telephone on Friday 5 May that most of the rebels have crossed to the DRC to join rebel leader Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti who are believed to be hiding in the jungles of Garamba National Park, eastern DRC.

"About 95 per cent of the LRA are now hiding in the DRC after our hot pursuit in southern Sudan," said Magezi.

He noted that there just a few remnants that are remaining in southern Sudan which the rebels used as their base to launch attacks against the Ugandan government, in a rebellion that has left tens of thousands of people dead.

"Our forces in southern Sudan have made major successes in wiping out these rebels. And because of our fire power, they are fleeing to the DRC," Magezi added.

UPDF spokesman, Maj Felix Kulaigye told Xinhua by telephone on Friday that Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi had returned from Sudan where he had gone to meet President Omar Al-Bashir and the UN Khartoum team to reach a regional mechanism to handle the LRA.

President Yoweri Museveni said on Thursday that there is need for the government to work in conjunction with the Sudanese government, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army and the United Nations Force in the DRC (MONUC) in ending the war in northern Uganda.

The Ugandan military said recently if Kony and his 150 armed combatants are given a safe haven in the DRC, they could build up and become a regional problem.

According to Minister Mbabazi, Uganda is to send defence and foreign affairs officials to meet the DRC authorities on how the two neighbouring countries can wipe out LRA rebels.

"It is a matter we are pushing with vigour and we are sure to receive positive reports," Mbabazi said shortly before leaving for the Khartoum meeting.

About two weeks ago, the Ugandan government proposed to the UN Security Council to allow the UPDF pursue the LRA rebels in the DRC.

Last week, the DRC government said UPDF soldiers were sighted on its territory pursuing the LRA, a thing the Ugandan army denied.

The LRA rebels have been fighting the Ugandan government for the last 20 years in a rebellion that has left tens of thousands of people dead and over 1.4 million people living in internally displaced persons camps in northern Uganda.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

First batch of Sudanese refugees back home from Uganda

The first convoy of 160 Sudanese refugees in Uganda repatriating to South Sudan left Tuesday from the northern district of Moyo to Kadjo Keji, some 30 kilometres north of the Ugandan border, Sudan Tribune reported May 3, 2006:

Sudanese refugee woman

Photo: A Sudanese refugee woman waits to embark in a bus in Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya December 17, 2005 to return into south Sudan.

From now until the rainy season starts in June - when the roads become impassable - UNHCR plans to help 160 refugees a day return home to their areas of origin.

So far, 27,000 of the some 174,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda have registered to repatriate, said UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis.

In preparation for the return, representatives from Sudanese communities and local authorities in the return areas came to Uganda in mid-April on a "come-and-inform visit" to tell refugee leaders what they could expect back home.

Last week, UNHCR sent 13 refugee leaders on a two-day "go-and-see visit" to South Sudan, where they saw for themselves the health, education and water conditions in the area. After also talking with the local population in Kajo Keji area, refugee leaders returned to the refugee settlements in Moyo to tell refugees about their findings so they could make their own decision about returning.

There are still 350,000 Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries and some 4 million internally displaced in Sudan itself. Since UNHCR started voluntary repatriations in December 2005, some 3,000 refugees have returned from neighbouring countries to South Sudan.

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