Monday, December 29, 2008

Rikwangba in Southern Sudan remains open as assembly area for LRA rebels

Article from Sudan Tribune December 15, 2008 (JUBA) by James Gatdet Dak:
SOUTH SUDAN VP CONFIRMS ATTACKS ON LRA REBELS

The Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President and Chief Mediator of the Uganda peace process, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, confirmed on Monday that military offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was under way inside DR Congo.

Joseph_Kony_Riek_Machar.jpg

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

A regional joint force carried out a surprise attack on LRA positions in eastern DR Congo on Sunday.

Machar said as mediators they were aware of the offensive shortly before it was announced in Kampala by the Ugandan government.

He blamed the LRA leader Joseph Kony for not signing the peace deal.

“We understand the frustration involved because Kony has failed to sign [the final peace agreement] five times,” he explained.

He further explained that Kony failed his arrangement to sign twice, former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano’s once, northern Ugandan leaders’ once and lastly failed to talk to President Museveni on the phone despite Museveni’s offer to dialogue with him directly.

Machar added that his government has closed its borders and would not allow the renewed fighting with the rebels to over spill into Southern Sudan again.

He however said the Government of Southern Sudan has made an important decision that incase Joseph Kony reconsiders to sign, Rikwangba in Southern Sudan remains open as assembly area for the rebels.

He said he considered the military offensive as a pressure on Kony to sign.
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Article from Sudan Tribune by James Gatdet Dak December 20, 2008 (JUBA)

CHIEF MEDIATOR CALLS ON UGANDAN REBELS TO ASSEMBLE TO DE-ESCALATE HOSTILITIES
The Chief Mediator of the Uganda peace process, Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar Teny has called on the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to assemble in Ri-Kwangba to “de-escalate” the ongoing hostilities with regional forces.

Riek_Machar7-2.jpg

Photo: Riek Machar

A joint regional force launched offensive against the LRA bases inside north-eastern DR Congo last week and still escalating.

In his 2nd report on the status of the Juba peace process, dated 15th December and of which copy the Sudan Tribune received today, the Chief Mediator stated that it was the Ugandan army that carried out the attacks on LRA on 14th December in Garamba forests, but was to be joined by Congolese forces while the SPLA would deploy along Southern Sudan borders to prevent the LRA from infiltrating into the semi-autonomous region.

He urged the LRA rebels to assemble in Ri-Kwangba area, respect the terms for assembling, sign and implement the peace deal.

The Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President further stated that the military action was neither intended to destroy the Juba peace agreements nor abrogate the Ugandan government’s commitments towards the peace process.

Machar blamed the LRA leadership for not signing the Final Peace Agreement (KPA), which prompted regional military offensive against the rebels and called on them to assemble.

"I would therefore invite the LRA to signal its readiness to return and assemble in Ri-Kwangba in order to expeditiously conclude the Juba process,” he stated.

Some of the rebels were already reported to have infiltrated into Southern Sudan following the fighting and were accused by government officials of killing two civilians yesterday in Western Equatoria state.

He said the LRA should contact the Mediator who would, through the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team, work with the relevant forces, to arrange for safe passage to Ri-Kwangba at Sudan/DR Congo border.

Machar said the mediators were aware of the concerns raised by the LRA on the ICC which they said were impeding the signature of the FPA, but he stated that these would be addressed within the framework of the peace agreement and "should therefore not delay this process any longer."

"The LRA must act swiftly and in good faith to conclude this chapter of violence so that peace can return to this region," he concluded.
Cross posted today at Congo Watch and Sudan Watch.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kony tapped UPDF radio - Museveni

From the Monitor Kampala by Rodney Muhumuza 23 December 2008:
President Yoweri Museveni has said at least four battalions of Ugandan troops are closing in on Joseph Kony in DR Congo’s forested Garamba area, over a week after a joint force bombarded the rebel leader’s camps and forced him to flee.

Mr Museveni, who described the attack as very successful, said the reclusive rebel leader may have escaped because he acquired a gadget that he used to monitor the radio conversations of the pilots manning the helicopter gunships.

“We found that there was a manual of a certain gadget Kony may have used to monitor the radio conversations of the pilots,” Mr Museveni told a press conference in Kampala yesterday. “We captured the manual but we did not capture the gadget itself. The gadget only becomes useful if the pilots do not maintain radio silence.”

Mr Museveni, who regretted that his government spent time negotiating peace with the Lord’s Resistance Army, said the UPDF would seek to block Kony from crossing into the Central African Republic, where his troops have sometimes sneaked to recruit and cause havoc.

“The force on the western side of Garamba has detected a group of 100 fighters trying to go to the Central African Republic,” Mr Museveni said. “We shall get them before they go there.”

Mr Museveni said the operation had been successful despite delays in putting the ground forces into action.

Ugandan commandos entered Garamba last Tuesday, two days after the initial assault.

Although there have been no casualties from the attack, Mr Museveni said yesterday that LRA fighters may have returned to bury their dead. “It was a very successful operation…we attacked Kony’s main camp and devastated it,” Mr Museveni said.

“Kony only understands one language--- the language of the gun.”

Kony, indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, in April refused to sign a peace deal negotiated under the mediation of the South Sudan government.

Kony has said he will not sign the peace deal until the ICC withdraws arrest warrants for him and his top lieutenants.

The offensive on Garamba, where Kony had be holed up for nearly three years, was the first direct confrontation between the UPDF and the LRA since a ceasefire agreement was signed in August 2006.
 
“I don’t think that it was ever correct to beg Kony for peace as some groups were doing,” Mr Museveni said. “We had no other option but to act against these criminal acts.”

A section of Acholi elders, reacting to the offensive, said aerial bombardment of the LRA camps was the wrong tactic against a rebel group that still holds many women and children, most of them forcibly recruited.

Mr Museveni said yesterday he had asked the Police to examine whether the recent statements of MPs Reagan Okumu and Livingstone Okello-Okello, who claimed that the allied forces had hit empty camps, were not potentially criminal.

Mr Museveni suggested that the Ugandan contingent would stay in Garamba for an extended period as it tries to capture or kill Kony.
 
“If Kony tried to settle in any other region, he would be exposed to more danger than in Garamba,” he said. “I would like to assure Ugandans that this is the end of Kony as the terrorist of Uganda… As an old fighter, I wouldn’t want to be in Kony’s position. The combined operations are about to decimate him.”

Meanwhile, the LRA yesterday set new demands for talks with the government and called for a ceasefire.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, the leader of the LRA peace delegation, Mr David Nyekorach Matsanga, said the LRA will not go back to Juba for the completion of the talks and signing of the Final Peace Agreement (FPA).

He added LRA want a different person other than vice President of South Sudan, Dr Riek Machar, to chair the talks.
If possible, Dr Matsanga said, a UN appointed envoy should take over the process as Dr Machar “has lost credibility to mediate in the conflict.”

He termed Dr Machar as a traitor especially after the Sunday attacks. Mr Matsanga said the UN appointed envoy should report directly to the UN Security Council at every step made.

The rebel group demanded the inclusion of Sant. E-Gideo, an international NGO in Northern Uganda in the peace talks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kenya-Uganda-LRA-Peace talks

From APA-Nairobi (Kenya) 22 December 2008:
UGANDA'S LRA REBELS DEMAND FRESH TALKS WITH GOV'T WITH UN ENVOY AS CHAIR

Uganda’s rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on Monday said that they were ready for peace talks with the Ugandan government if only the chair of the peace talks, Riek Machar who is also the Vice-President of Southern Sudan steps down, and they also demanded that a special United Nations envoy be appointed to take over as chair of the peace talks.

Addressing a news conference in Nairobi, the LRA spokesman, David Matsanga said that LRA has already lost confidence in Machar.

“He has lost credibility in the peace talks”, he said and accused him to be the stumbling block to the peace process.

He accused Machar of being sympathetic to the Ugandan government and called him a traitor in regard to the military attacks on LRA on December 14 code-named “Operation lighting thunder”.

He said that the special UN envoy will report directly to the Security Council and brief the Council on every step of the peace talks.

The spokesman said that the LRA was committed to the peace talks despite the government attacks.

Matsanga said that the LRA leader Joseph Kony has proposed a change of the venue of the peace process, saying that either Tanzania or South Africa could host the talks.

He called an end to the tripartite air raids on LRA bases by Congolese, Ugandan and Southern Sudanese forces adding that the attacks have instead intensified the long drawn 22 year-old conflict.

He further maintained that the signing of the Final Peace Agreement(FPA) has been impeded due to the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC)) against Kony.

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UN Security Council strongly condemns attacks by LRA in DR Congo, Southern Sudan

Security Council strongly condemns attacks by Lord's Resistance Army in Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan

Source: United Nations Security Council
Date: 22 Dec 2008 (via ReliefWeb )

SC/9555
Security Council
6058th Meeting (AM)

Presidential Statement also Condemns Repeated Failure of LRA Leader Joseph Kony to Sign Peace Agreement Negotiated with Uganda

The Council today strongly condemned the recent attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Southern Sudan, and demanded that LRA cease its recruitment and use of children and release immediately all women, children and other non-combatants.

In a statement read by this month's President, Nevin Jurica (Croatia), the Council also condemned the repeated failure of Joseph Kony to sign the Final Peace Agreement negotiated between the Government of Uganda and LRA.

Recalling that the International Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants for certain LRA leaders on charges of, among other things, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and the enlistment of children through abduction, the Council reaffirmed that ending impunity was essential for a society recovering from conflict to come to terms with past abuses and to prevent their recurrence.

The Council welcomed the re-establishment of peace and security in northern Uganda and encouraged the country's Government to honour its commitment to accelerate reconciliation, recovery and development in that region through rapid implementation of its Peace, Recovery and Development Plan.

The Council expressed its appreciation for the efforts undertaken by Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, as the Secretary-General's Special Representative for LRA-affected areas, and agreed with his recommendation that the peace efforts should continue.

At the end of the meeting, the President bade farewell to the five outgoing members, Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa, and commended them for their hard work and contributions during their 2007-2008 term on the Council.

The meeting started at 11:51 a.m. and adjourned at 11:57 a.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/48 reads as follows:

"The Security Council is grateful for the efforts undertaken by His Excellency Mr. Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique, as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas. The Council expresses its appreciation for his briefing of 17 December 2008, and agrees with his recommendation that the peace efforts should continue. The Council welcomes President Chissano's readiness to continue in his role for a further period.

"The Security Council reiterates its welcome for the Final Peace Agreement (FPA), negotiated between the Government of Uganda and the LRA, and reached through the Juba Peace Process. The Council commends the Government of Uganda for its continued commitment to the FPA and its investment in the peace process.

"The Security Council condemns the repeated failure of Joseph Kony to sign the FPA. It calls upon the LRA to sign and honour the FPA immediately and to begin the process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration to ensure a peaceful, political solution.

"The Security Council strongly condemns the recent attacks by the LRA in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Southern Sudan, which pose a continuing threat to regional security. It demands that the LRA cease its recruitment and use of children and that it release immediately all women, children and other non combatants, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1612 (2005). The Council reiterates its deep concern at the long-running and brutal insurgency by the LRA, which has caused the death, abduction and displacement of thousands of innocent civilians in Uganda, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"The Security Council recalls the International Criminal Court arrest warrants for certain LRA leaders on charges of, among other things, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and the enlistment of children through abduction. The Council recalls its statement of June 2006 (PRST/2006/28), and reaffirms that it attaches vital importance to promoting justice and the rule of law, including respect for human rights, as an indispensable element for lasting peace. The Council reaffirms that ending impunity is essential for a society recovering from conflict to come to terms with past abuses committed against civilians and to prevent their recurrence.

"The Security Council commends the States in the region for their increased cooperation, and welcomes the joint efforts they have made to address the security threat posed by the LRA. The Council calls upon these States to ensure that all actions are carried out in accordance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, and to take appropriate measures to protect civilians. The Council encourages these States to keep the United Nations missions in the region informed about their actions.

"The Security Council welcomes the re-establishment of peace and security in northern Uganda. It encourages the Government of Uganda, with the support of international partners, to honour its commitment to accelerate reconciliation, recovery and development in that region through rapid implementation of its Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) and relevant agenda items in the FPA and to disburse anticipated financing for the PRDP without delay.

"The Security Council will continue to monitor the situation closely."

LRA wants peace talks

From New Vision by Reuben Olita 22 December, 2008:
LRA wants peace talks

LRA rebels have demanded the immediate halt to the UPDF attacks and resumption of peace talks, spokesman David Nyekorach Matsanga said in Nairobi yesterday.

The negotiations should be moved from South Sudan to Tanzania or South Africa, Matsanga added.

Addressing a press conference at Chester, Matsanga, flanked by another LRA activist, Justine Labeja, said chief mediators Riek Machar, the South Sudan’s vice-president, and former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano should be dropped from the talks because they are biased. Matsanga described Machar as a traitor and an enemy.

In a statement, Matsanga said the venue should be changed because the government of South Sudan “is not neutral in the conflict”.

Tanzania or South Africa , he said, were preferable given their “political stability and democratic” credentials and their capacity to “enforce the agreement”.

Matsanga said the new talks should address rebel chief Gen. Joseph Kony’s concerns about his indictment for war crimes at The Hague, which he blamed for his refusal to sign the agreement.

Uganda, Congo and South Sudan last Sunday jointly attacked Kony’s camps in the thick Garamba forest in the north-east of the DR Congo, where he had been holed up for about two years as the talks were going on in Juba, South Sudan.

The allies said the offensive, code-named Operation Lightning Thunder, was intended to push Kony into signing the final peace agreement, which he refused to do thrice this year after a painstaking process.

Operation Lightning Thunder spokesman Capt. Chris Magezi said the operation had been a success because Kony would not be able to mount serious war again.

He said weapons, Kony’s personal effects, including his wig and guitar, and household items were recovered and expansive gardens of food crops destroyed. Eight abductees have been rescued, Magezi said.

However, Matsanga insisted that Kony and his high command survived the bombardment. He would not say where he was or confirm reports that he had fled to the Central African Republic.

Matsanga said he spoke with Kony “very recently and his spirit was very high”.

President Yoweri Museveni yesterday said Kony was trapped in the forest and would not escape this time unless he signed the pact.

Kony hits dead time, says Museveni

From New Vision 22 December, 2008:
Kony hits dead time, says Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni on Monday made a radio statement on the joint Sunday assault on the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the Garamba Park. Below are the excerpts....

Countrymen,

I greet you all and I congratulate you for reaching the end of 2008. 1 wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, 2009.

The purpose of this broadcast is to tell you that on Sunday 14th December 2008, at 1130 hours, we attacked Kony’s camp in Garamba Park. It was a very successful operation because our Air-force, operating with the support of the brother Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the brother Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), attacked Kony’s main camp codenamed “Kiswahili”.

The gunships flew directly from Koboko (district), carried out the attack and refuelled in Southern Sudan. Later in the day of that same Sunday, our other assets, including MIG21 jet-fighters, landed on some airports in DRC. The airports in the three sister countries, DRC, GOSS and Uganda are now being used to end this shameful terror of Kony in the Great Lakes region. We are most grateful to the sister countries of DRC and Sudan for this correct stand on terrorism and unconstitutionalism.

We attacked Kony because of the following reasons:

1. Kony had refused to sign the agreement that had been negotiated for two years under the mediation of the Government of Southern Sudan for whom we are most grateful for the tireless effort they put in. This showed that Kony only understands one language — that of the gun. I do not think it was ever correct to beg Kony for peace as some groups were doing. We are ready to forgive Kony. It should, however, be Kony to beg for peace because he is the one that killed Ugandans, abducted women for sex-slaves, abducted children, mutilated Ugandans and other Africans, etc. Anyway, Kony proved that he was never interested in peace by refusing to sign the agreement when the signing was due, not once but many times.

2. Kony has never stopped abducting Congolese, Southern Sudanese and citizens of Central African Republic (CAR) ever since he entered Garamba over three years ago. Indeed, we are already rescuing children from these countries that Kony had abducted, including a 17-year-old girl from CAR, who is heavy with pregnancy - thanks to Kony’s thugs!

3. Kony continued to kill Ugandans even during the peace talks, including the killing of Otti. Why should Kony, who is so concerned about the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment and always wants guarantees for his safety, kill other law-breakers like Otti? Why does he care about his life and not that of others? This impunity of Kony and those who support him must be brought to an end.

4. Kony had started dispersing his terrorists to the whole region (DRC, Southern Sudan, etc. and was trying to re-infiltrate some elements into Uganda) to ensure that in the coming dry season he causes terror in all these areas. Only yesterday the SPLA attacked a Kony group led by Kidega at Lanya in Southern Sudan. This had been sent by Kony long before the Sunday attack to disrupt Southern Sudan and possibly Northern Uganda. This group of Kidega was sent from Garamba on the 5th of December 2008 long before the attack of 14th December 2008. The aim was to start the killings in Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda.
We, therefore, had no option but to act against these criminal acts and we did with the support of the region and the international community. The region supports us through coordination, joint operations and sharing assets. The international community gives us moral support and some limited solidarity in some areas.

Was the attack mission successful? It was very successful in spite of some delays due to coordination challenges. The attack took place at 1130 hours (East African Standard time) instead of 0730 hours local time. On the first day of the attack we could not use all our assets: gunships, jets, infantry, etc, because they were not in position on account of coordination challenges, distances, weather, etc.

Nevertheless, it was a big success. Why do I say so? The following are the reasons:

I. Although we used only gunships, they were right on target. Kony’s people were on parade preparing to disperse in order to spread terror to the whole region. Many were killed and the rest scattered in the Garamba Park. Kony survived the attack because he left the camp five minutes before the attack. We suspect that somebody had given him a gadget for detecting conversation of pilots in flight. Indeed, we have captured a manual for that purpose that we are studying. This is a curable challenge. He might not be so lucky next time.

II. The Kony group was forced to abandon the huge amount of food they had got from Caritas, the huge gardens they had cultivated using slave labour and comfort of the Garamba territory they had turned into their own. They are now leading the life of fugitives in the park. Indeed, the Kony gardens are now feeding our troops, thereby saving on the costs for the airlift of food from Uganda. Without food the Kony terrorists are in great trouble.

III. On Sunday, we disrupted Kony’s cohesion and his simple supply system that was based on the locally grown food and that given to him by Caritas when he was deceiving Dr. Riak Machar that he was interested in the peace talks. We did this with the use of only one element — the gunships. The full force of the UPDF and our allies (FARDC and SPLA) is now being assembled in the region.
As an old fighter, I would not want to be in Kony’s position. The combined arms operations that are about to begin will decimate him.
This is exactly, what happened in Teso and Lango in 2003, when Kony’s notorious commanders — Tabuley, Nyeko, etc., died. That is why Otti and Kony fled to Garamba with very much reduced manpower — Kony had 120 and Otti had 120. Kony and Otti did not go to Garamba for tourism reasons. They were fleeing. I remember the battle of Apopong in Teso, in August 2003, where one of Kony’s commanders called Opio died. That was, actually, the turning point of this conflict. What happened in Teso is about to happen in Garamba unless Kony does the wise and simple thing — ask for safe passage to the Ri-Kwamba assembly area and sign the peace agreement.
That is the only safe course of action for Kony.

iv. If Kony tries to scatter in the region (Southern Sudan, other parts of DRC or tries to return to Uganda), he will be more exposed to danger than in Garamba. We have now gathered more intelligence on Kony’s activities and those who support him by entering Kony’s camps in Garamba. As we continue operating, we shall gather even more information against him.

If we could attack Kony from Koboko, 231 miles away, how will he survive if he is nearer in Southern Sudan or tries to re-enter Uganda?

Therefore, I would like to assure Ugandans that this is the end of Kony as a terrorist. We have ended cattle rustling in Karamoja precisely on account of this capacity.

There are the likes of Okello Okello and Okumu Reagan who try to cause panic in the population that Kony will come back to Uganda in order to resume his terrorism. They refer to the operation Iron Fist of 2002, when we flushed Kony out of the Kit Valley (Rubangatek, Kempaco, etc.) only for his group to go to the Imatong Hills from where we flushed them, They, then, re-entered Uganda and caused a lot of suffering until they were defeated in Teso in 2003 and, eventually, fled to Garamba. Operation Iron Fist was also a success because Kony was uprooted from his bases in Kit Valley. However, the problem we had that time was that, on account, of the interference in our defence budgeting by some external forces, our Army modernisation had lagged behind. We still relied only on infantry (Soldiers walking on foot). This one we cured when we cut 23% from budget lines of all the ministries and modernised the Army. Indeed, this was one of my campaign points in the 2001 general elections. The Army has now been modernised. It is now a bi-service force — Land forces and Air- force. This makes the Army lethal and prompt in its capacity to deal with un-constitutional e1emets. The defeat of Kony in Teso and Lango in 2003, was the first fruit of this modernisation. The pacification of Karamoja is the second big fruit from this modernisation. The Sunday 14th long jump operation into Garamba opened a campaign that will see the end of Kony either, peacefully, by him walking to Ri-Kwamba and signing the agreement or by being violently killed or captured together with those traitors that have been with him. This is how we shall liberate all the abductees as we are beginning to do. Those criminal politicians who encourage Kony to avoid peace maybe, paradoxically, God’s agents in bringing about Kony’s death. His continued failure to assemble in Ri-Kwamba will, I am almost certain, bring about his death. Kony should know how to save himself.

I would like to call upon our citizens to ignore Okello Okello and Okumu Reagan. Even Kony would be advised to keep a distance from them and their likes. Otherwise, Okello Okello and Okumu Reagan will cause the death of Kony just as they caused the deaths of Yardin, Nyeko, Tabuley, Lukwiya and even Otti. Any Kony terrorist who listens to their advice will have himself to blame. Victory is assured.

I thank you very much.

Yoweri K. Museveni
22 December 2008 - Nakasero

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Security Council demands that Ugandan rebels sign peace accord

From UN.org 22 December 2008 - Security Council demands that Ugandan rebels sign peace accord:
The United Nation Security Council today strongly condemned recent attacks by the rebel Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan, and demanded that it immediately sign a previously negotiated peace accord.

A presidential statement, read out by Ambassador Nevin Jurica of Croatia, which holds this month’s rotating presidency of the 15-member body, condemned the repeated failure of LRA leader Joseph Kony to sign the Final Peace Agreement negotiated between the Government of Uganda and LRA.

It recalled that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued arrest warrants for “certain LRA leaders” on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and the enlistment of children through abduction. The ICC issued arrest warrants for Mr. Kony and two other LRA leaders, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, in 2005.

“The Council reiterates its deep concern at the long-running and brutal insurgency by the LRA, which has caused the death, abduction and displacement of thousands of innocent civilians in Uganda, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the statement said. “It demands that the LRA cease its recruitment and use of children and that it release immediately all women, children and other non-combatants.”

Noting that “it attaches vital importance to promoting justice and the rule of law, including respect for human rights, as an indispensable element for lasting peace,” the Council reaffirmed that “ending impunity is essential for a society recovering from conflict to come to terms with past abuses committed against civilians and to prevent their recurrence.”

It called on the LRA to sign the peace accord immediately and begin the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to ensure a peaceful, political solution to the 21-year-long conflict.

The Council welcomed the re-establishment of peace and security in northern Uganda, which has seen the LRA disperse into Southern Sudan and eastern DRC, and called on the Ugandan Government to accelerate reconciliation, recovery and development in the north by disbursing anticipated financing without delay.

Last week the Council voiced support for a joint military operation launched by the DRC, Uganda and Southern Sudan to flush the LRA out of a remote national park in north-eastern DRC.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has helped ship in 24 tons of food for 8,500 people in the DRC’s Dungu region affected by the LRA. “These people are very happy,” WFP programme manager Ibrahime Diallo said after helping to supervise the distribution. “They have been waiting a long time. Now they see that when we say we will do something, we will do something.”

Local men offloaded bags and cans of food bearing the logos of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Office) and other donors. WFP’s feeding programme in the area is expected to last two or three months.

Dungu town’s population has grown as internally displaced persons (IDPs) arrived. With the area outside Dungu now considered by many a no-go zone, hunger is on the increase.

“The harvest season begins in January and they are unable to go to their farms and fields,” WFP Dungu sub-station chief Charles Gemenze said. “There is no famine but IDPs, host families and returnees need to complement what little food they still have.”

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Govts of Uganda, Sudan and DR Congo today launch joint offensive against Uganda LRA rebels in DRC, Uganda says

Today, the governments of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan launched a joint military offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) bases in Garamba, eastern Congo, an army spokesman said.

Let's hope this news is of a genuine effort to eradicate the LRA who have been on the rampage for more than 20 years, committing unspeakable crimes and atrocities that are far worse than anything that has happened in Darfur, W. Sudan.

Further details are here below in a report just in from the BBC and in a Factbox from Reuters giving some details about leader Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels, along with a profile by the Telegraph's David Blair and a recent photo of Kony who is estimated to have abducted more than 20,000 children to fight as footsoldiers in the LRA.

Also, here below is a blog post and extract from an article on the LRA by freelance journalist Rob Crilly. The whole 2000 word article is up for sale. Rob does not mention a price but in the comments at his post at From The Frontline blog he says that he is open to offers. If anyone reading this is able to sponsor Rob's article for publication here at Uganda Watch (and its sister sites Sudan Watch and Congo Watch) please email me. I have spent over four years raising awareness of the LRA and would appreciate Rob's article being published asap in the hope of it being helpful to the poor forgotten people of Northern Uganda. No doubt Rob's article is very good. It needs to be shared as widely as possible. Here are just a few of the reasons why, in pictures:

See Sudan Watch, February 06, 2006: One of the world's most wanted men: Ugandan LRA terrorist group chief Joseph Kony flees Southern Sudan into DR Congo - UN calls NGOs into Kony hunt

Gulu victim

Photo: Gulu victim. The LRA use torture to instil fear. Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has become synonymous with torture, abductions and killings. (BBC photo) from Sudan Watch archives.

Uganda1

Photo: Two young boy's get treated for severe burn wounds in the Lira hospital in northern Uganda, Feb 23, 2004, after a massacre believed to be committed by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the town that killed at least 200 people. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo) from Sudan Watch archives.

Northern Uganda

Photo: Ochola John was deformed by rebels from Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (BBC) Read the victim's heartbreaking testimony: June 30 2006 Sudan Watch and Uganda Watch - LRA victim: 'I cannot forget and forgive'

ARMIES 'ATTACK UGANDA REBELS'
From the BBC Sunday, 14 December 2008 7:36 PM GMT:
Three African armies have launched a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels based in eastern DR Congo, military officials say in Uganda.

Uganda, DR Congo and the government of South Sudan reportedly moved against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Garamba region of DR Congo.

LRA leader Joseph Kony, wanted by the International Criminal Court, has recently stalled on a peace deal.

The LRA has led a rebellion for more than 20 years in northern Uganda.

The fighting has displaced some two million people.

Uganda's government has been involved in lengthy peace negotiations with the LRA, but the rebels' leader has demanded that arrest warrants for him and his associates are dropped before any agreement can be struck.

A statement announcing the operation was released in the Ugandan capiital Kampala by the intelligence chiefs of all three armed forces.

The statement said the attack targeted the "terrorists" at their bases in the forested area of Garamba, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, AFP news agency said.

"The three armed forces successfully attacked the main body and destroyed the main camp of Kony, code-named camp Swahili, setting it on fire," the statement said.
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FOR SALE: LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY FEATURE
December 10, 2008 blog post by Rob Crilly:
Earlier this year photographer Kate Holt and I chartered a plane to fly from Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the tiny village of Doruma which was recovering from repeated attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army. We found people living in fear of the next assault, as LRA raiding parties roamed the jungle looking for sex slaves, porters and fighters.

We uncovered evidence that Joseph Kony was cynically using a halt in hostilities - called to allow peace talks - in order to rearm, recruit and reorganise. With food distributed by aid agencies and satphones delivered by the Ugandan diaspora, his fighting force was more efficient that ever. And one his key aides, a recent defector, told us that Kony would never sign up to peace.

FOR eight days Raymond Kpiolebeyo was marched at gunpoint through the steaming Congolese jungle, not knowing whether he would live or die. For six nights he slept with eight other prisoners pinned under a plastic sheet weighted down with bags and stones to prevent escape. Their sweat condensed on the sheeting inches above their faces before dripping back and turning their plastic prison into a stinking, choking sauna.

He was a prisoner of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a cult-like band of brutal commanders and their brutalised child soldiers.

“They told us that if one of use tried to escape we would all be shot,” said Raymond, a 28-year-old teacher from the town of Doruma, close to the border with South Sudan.

In the end the story was commissioned but never ran. So, I am offering a 2000wd feature, an unparalleled insight into the bizarre world of Joseph Kony, for sale. Please contact me by the using the comments section below…

Moonlight in Dungu, N.E. DR Congo

Photo: Two young children stand outside their hut in the moonlight in Dungu, in North Eastern DR Congo, on 19 June, 2008. (Photo by Kate Holt kateholt.com)
Note, although Rob does not mention a price, in the comments at his blog post, he says he is open to offers. I would be most grateful for any ideas or suggestions that would help the article get published. If anyone reading this is able to sponsor the article (or knows someone who can) for publication here at Uganda Watch, Congo Watch and Sudan Watch, please email me. The plight of the poor people of Northern Uganda and LRA victims must not be forgotten. Please help in any way possible. Thank you.
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WHO ARE UGANDA'S LRA REBELS?
December 14, 2008 factbox from Reuters:
WHAT HAS HAPPENED:

Thousands of people have been killed and 2 million displaced during the 22 years of fighting between Kony's rebels and the Ugandan government. The conflict has destabilised parts of oil-producing south Sudan and mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last October LRA fighters carried out a series of raids near Congo's porous northern border with Sudan, looting homes and burning buildings in a pattern similar to months of violence. LRA fighters killed at least 52 people, and abducted another 159 children and 10 adults during attacks in northern Congo in September, that country's U.N. peacekeeping mission, MONUC, said.

A landmark truce was signed in August 2006 and was later renewed. But talks brokered by south Sudan collapsed last April after Kony failed to sign the pact as planned.

Mediators gave Kony until the end of November to give his final approval to the peace deal. However, he again failed to appear to sign a final peace deal and told traditional elders at the end of last month he would still not sign a final peace deal until an international arrest warrant for him is scrapped.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for his role in a conflict that has destabilised a swathe of central Africa.

THE LRA AND A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS:

Self-proclaimed mystic Kony began one of a series of initially popular uprisings in northern Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986. But his tactics of kidnapping recruits and killing civilians alienated supporters.

The LRA was infamous for abducting children for use as soldiers, porters and "wives". Although there are no universally accepted figures, the children are believed to number many thousands. Some are freed after days, others never escape.

Kony's force was once backed by Khartoum as a proxy militia, although Sudan said it cut all ties with it. Kony quit his hideouts in south Sudan in 2005 for the Democratic Republic of Congo's remote Garamba forest.

Many northerners reviled the LRA for its atrocities, but also blamed Museveni for setting up camps for at least 2 million people as part of his counter-insurgency strategy, fuelling one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

WHAT DOES KONY WANT?

Kony has said he wants to rule Uganda by the Biblical Ten Commandments, but at peace talks his group also articulated a range of northern grievances, including the theft of cattle by Museveni's troops and demands for more political power.
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PROFILE: Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army

By David Blair
The Daily Telegraph
November 29, 2008
When Joseph Kony's minions began peace talks with Uganda's government in 2005, their first task was to think of some coherent aims on behalf of their psychotic leader.

Joseph Kony

Photo: Joseph Kony is estimated to have abducted more than 20,000 children to fight as footsoldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army (Reuters photo)

Kony, who is about 47 and holds the distinction of being the first man ever to be indicted by the International Criminal Court, has waged war with no purpose since 1988.

He began his campaign in Northern Uganda, posing as a messianic figure who communed with holy spirits. The nearest Kony ever came to a political goal was a pledge to rule Uganda according to the Ten Commandments.

At the beginning, he won some followers largely because President Yoweri Museveni had ignored Northern Uganda and excluded Kony's Acholi people from power.

By 1992, Kony had staked his claim to be fighting in the name of the Lord by naming his movement the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). But his rebellion amounted to a vicious cult, not a classic insurgency, and had no purpose save rebellion itself.

Consequently, no-one would volunteer to fight for Kony's non-existent cause, leaving him with little choice but to abduct children and force them to become his footsoldiers. How many innocents have suffered this fate is unknown – but the official estimate of 20,000 is almost a decade out of date. The real total may be two or three times higher.

The peace talks with Uganda's government have yielded a draft agreement, which Kony's representatives insist he will sign.

But a paper deal may not abate his murderous campaign.

Kony has been driven from Uganda, where no LRA attacks have occurred for almost three years. Instead, Congo's defenceless people are now his chosen victims.

Even if Kony makes peace with Uganda, his onslaught in Congo may continue.

Africa's children will only be safe when this mystical psychopath meets his well-deserved end.
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MAP OF SUDAN SHOWING JANUARY 1, 1956 LINE OF DEMARCATION

This is an interesting map. Click here for a larger view.

Sudan map showing January 1, 1956 Line of Demarcation

Source: US Government
U.S. Policy Toward Sudan
Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
September 28, 2005

[Cross posted today at Sudan Watch and Congo Watch]

UPDATE SUNDAY 14 DECEMBER 2008

December 14, 2008 Voice of America News report - excerpt:
A joint statement, signed by the three governments' chiefs of military intelligence, say the forces destroyed the main camp of LRA leader Joseph Kony and set it on fire. There was no immediate word on Kony's fate but the statement said the operation was still in progress.
Full story: AFRICAN NEIGHBORS ATTACK UGANDAN REBELS.

SNAPSHOT - GOOGLE'S NEWSREEL SUNDAY EVENING GMT 14 DECEMBER 2008

Regional forces launch offensive against Uganda's rebel group
Xinhua, China - 28 minutes ago
KAMPALA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Military forces from Uganda, southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched an attack on Sunday morning on ...

UPDF attacks Kony
Daily Monitor, Uganda - 1 hour ago
The UPDF yesterday attacked the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, ending a 29-month ceasefire and signalling the complete failure of peace talks meant to end ...

UPDF planes attack Kony's Congo base
New Vision, Uganda - 1 hour ago
By Henry Mukasa UGANDA, South Sudan and DR Congo yesterday morning jointly attacked Joseph Kony’s rebels hiding in Garamaba forest. ...

Congo war hurts cross-border trade
New Vision, Uganda - 1 hour ago
By Samuel Balagadde THE political turmoil in DR Congo is frustrating cross-boarder trade between the with Uganda, a top businessman complained over the ...

Ministers want sanctions on LRA leader
New Vision, Uganda - 1 hour ago
By George Kalisa THE Foreign ministers of the member states of the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission have called on the UN Security council to impose travel ...

LRA base 'attacked' in Uganda
Aljazeera.net, Qatar - 3 hours ago
Troops from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan have attacked the bases of Uganda's Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA) in eastern Congo, ...

Joint operation against Ugandan rebels begins
Radio Netherlands, Netherlands - 3 hours ago
Military forces from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan have begun a joint operation against Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), ...

Ugandan rebels face joint offensive in DRCongo
ABC Online, Australia - 3 hours ago
By Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan Three central African countries have launched a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic ...

African neighbours in joint raid on Ugandan rebels
AFP - 4 hours ago
KAMPALA (AFP) — Forces from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan launched a joint military operation Sunday against Uganda's rebel ...

Governments launch military offensive on Uganda rebels
Reuters UK, UK - 4 hours ago
By Jack Kimball KAMPALA, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and south Sudan launched a joint military offensive on Sunday against ...

Armies 'attack Uganda rebels'
BBC News, UK - 5 hours ago
Three African armies have launched a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels based in eastern DR Congo, military officials say in Uganda. ...

FACTBOX-Who are Uganda's LRA rebels?
Reuters AlertNet, UK - 5 hours ago
Dec 14 (Reuters) - The governments of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan on Sunday launched a joint military offensive against the ...

African Neighbors Attack Ugandan Rebels
Voice of America - 1 hour ago
By VOA News Three central African governments say their armies have launched a joint offensive against Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army. ...

Nations launch offensive against Uganda LRA rebels
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 2 hours ago
By Jack Kimball KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan launched a joint military offensive on Sunday against Ugandan ...

African Armies Conduct Joint Offensive Against Ugandan
TransWorldNews (press release), GA - 2 hours ago
Armies from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan have reportedly engaged in a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels based in the eastern DR ...

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Ugandan president not opposed to Kony's request for direct contact

UGANDAN PRESIDENT WILLING TO HAVE DIRECT TALKS WITH REBEL LEADER
December 08, 2008 Xinhuanet report from Kampala, Uganda:
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is willing to have direct talks with the leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in order to end the over two-decade-long insurgency in the northern part of the country, an official said here on Monday.

Okello Oryem, minister of state for international affairs, told Xinhua by telephone that in a meeting between Museveni and the LRA top negotiator David Matsanga here on Monday, the president said he is not opposed to the rebel leader's request for direct contact.

Joseph Kony, the elusive rebel leader, failed to turn up at the expected signing ceremony of a final peace deal last weekend at the remote border area between Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, plunging the southern Sudan authority mediated peace process in disarray.

Kony said later that he would like to talk to Museveni directly, among other requests, including integrating the rebel fighter into national army and so on, which had been rejected by the Ugandan government during the talks since it started in mid-2006.

"He (Museveni) said he is willing to have direct talks with Kony anytime, even this evening if possible," said Oryem, who is also the deputy head of the government peace team.

He said Museveni gave his telephone number to Matsanga for Konyto call him.

Matsanga, along with Riek Machar, vice president of southern Sudan and mediator of the talks, briefed Museveni on Kony's failure to sign the final peace agreement last Saturday, the third time this year.

Matsanga told the closed door meeting that the rebel leader did not sign because of confusing telephone calls and text messages from his tribe-mates threatening him not to sign.

He also told the meeting that Kony needed a professional lawyer to help him understand the relationship between his International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments and the country's judicial system that will be used to try him.

Oryem quoted Museveni as saying that he has no problem with Kony getting a professional lawyer but he thinks the ICC indictments have been explained to Kony clearly.

The rebel group has vowed not to sign the final peace deal until the ICC withdraws the indictments against Kony and his top commanders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The government insisted that it would not appeal to the UN's court for the withdrawal of the charges before the peace deal is signed.

Machar also suggested that a regional approach involving the DRC needs to be taken since the rebel group is currently hiding in the eastern part of the vast central African country.

The LRA insurgency has left tens of thousands of people dead and uprooted some 2 million people in northern Uganda before the group shifted to southern Sudan and the DRC, then the Central Republic of Africa following Uganda's intensified military crackdown operations on the rebel group. (Editor: Sun Yunlong)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Is UPDF about to attack Kony’s Congo camps?

IS UPDF ABOUT TO ATTACK KONY'S CONGO CAMPS?
December 07, 2008 article from the Monitor by Tabu Butagira and Risdel Kasasira in Kampala, Uganda:
Last week’s refusal by Lords Resistance Army rebel leader, Joseph Kony to sign a peace deal with Uganda government could give him safer days in the bush, but the trick could soon backfire to trouble, if not a pre-emptive strike against the insurgents amid pronounced shifts in regional geo-politics.

Analysts say Uganda has a number of options to deal with the rebels hiding in Garamba, the DR Congo. One such proposal, that Kampala appears to be considering seriously, is to confront Kony and his fighters militarily or rally regional neighbours for a joint offensive.

Dr Simba Kayunga, a political science lecturer at Makerere University, suggests though that since a scattered LRA, very distant from Uganda’s borders poses no direct threat to the country; they could as well be ignored.

“Instead of chasing for the signature of Kony, I think the best thing for government to do is address the fundamental political grievances that produced the rebellion,” said Dr Kayunga.

Pundits fear that Kony could use the present cessation of hostilities to recruit and re-arm, and return with a more lethal force to terrorise northern Uganda.

Dr Kayunga said war-affected areas should be rebuilt and national jobs/resources allocated in a way that makes disaffected societies feel accepted as part of the incumbent government and Uganda.

It is understood this approach will eliminate pockets of internal discontent and deny any overt or covert indigenous support to the LRA, who have fought President Museveni’s government for the last 20 years.

But radicals within government want quick war. Anti-Personnel Carriers (APCs) and other armoured vehicles that have been idle at the UPDF 4 Division headquarters were early this week serviced and driven around Gulu town, causing tension among civilians.

A group of soldiers in Koboko are reported to be undergoing ‘refresher drills’ near Oraba border post. Col. Sam Kavuma, the commanding officer of the Pader-based UPDF 5 Division has met a joint team of senior security officers, and a press statement issued after the sitting said Uganda was set to tackle the LRA. The officers, sources say, were drawn from the core of the command that will lead what is increasingly looking like the next violent phase in the two-decade conflict.

This paper has heard that the military has intensified security reconnaissance along the porous frontier with Sudan and DRC after Kony, for the fourth time this year, refused to put his signature to the Juba agreement. The army, however, says these are but just routine exercises.

The United States has joined the fray, expressing “disappointment” over the failure by Kony to sign the Final Peace Agreement as scheduled on November 29, suggesting that pursuing negotiations with the LRA is now a futile exercise.

Mr Steven Browning, the US Ambassador to Uganda, said: “This latest failure to sign, combined with recent atrocities committed by the LRA in eastern Congo, indicate that the LRA leadership is not committed to peace. This in turn calls into question the value of continuing the efforts of regional and international facilitators to advance the Juba peace process.”

The Friday statement, sent in reply to inquiries by Sunday Monitor, called on the rebels to immediately halt brutal attacks on civilian targets in the DRC and Western Equatoria State of Sudan, that have suffered the brunt of bloody LRA attacks in the past several months.

“The US continues to encourage the governments of Uganda, the DRC, and southern Sudan to consult together on resolving the LRA issue,” said Mr Browning.

Incidentally, the Tri-partite Plus regional grouping, comprising Rwanda, Uganda, the DRC and Burundi starts meeting tomorrow in Kigali to devise a common strategy to handle the LRA, a group that is believed to have the capacity to destabilise the entire region.

These countries, that ironically are political foes of sorts, will be carrying their differences to the negotiating table. This may impinge on consensus.
It is, however, telling that in writing off continued peace talks, Ambassador Browning appears to revive the push for a military option that Ms Jendayi Frazer, the top American diplomat for Africa, advanced earlier this year.

Uganda is sending State Defence Minister, Ruth Nankabirwa to lobby unconditional support of the neighbouring countries for military action. This would help the country, build an agreeable case for stern action against LRA based on regional consensus, when Mr Joacqim Chissano, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for LRA war-affected areas, briefs the Security Council later this month.

Ms Nankabirwa said Uganda cannot yet attack Kony in Garamba without authorisation by regional neighbours, particularly President Joseph Kabila’s regime and the Khartoum government.

“We cannot do this (attack) alone, it must be done with the consent of other members because the LRA rebels are hiding in Congo,” she said, adding, “President Museveni is in touch with the Presidents of Rwanda, DRC, Burundi and Southern Sudan to come up with a common position on Kony.”

But the UK, one of Uganda’s key development partners, appears reluctant to support a military campaign against the rebels, which is not endorsed by the United Nations.
The British High Commission in Kampala said, “The UK is a strong supporter of the Juba process.

We regret that, despite commitments, the LRA have not signed the Final Peace Agreement. Reports of the rebels attacking in the region are deeply worrying and must stop. There will be further discussions at the UN after [former] President Chissano presents his report.”

The statement sent to Sunday Monitor urged the Uganda government to fully implement the delayed Shs1 trillion Peace, Recovery and Development Plan, expected to revive the economy and spark development besides restoring State authority in war-affected northern and far eastern regions.
This may explain why the Nairobi-branch of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says Kony may continue to hibernate in Congo forests as long as his forces do not disturb Congolese or Sudanese citizens.

“If the LRA provoke hostility by causing havoc in the surrounding communities, the regional governments will collectively or unilaterally pay him in the same currency,” said Mr Xavier Ejoyi, a researcher with the think-tank.
The four truckloads of food, delivered to the rebels at the weekend when Kony promised to sign the pact, could settle the fighters, for now. But once the rations run out, they will likely resume raids, attracting immediate counter-attacks?

For now, indications from almost all quarters are that the UPDF are just about to commence a pre-emptive engagement against the LRA. The question is: will it succeed?
Cross posted to Congo Watch.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Uganda Diaspora Think Tank at www.ugdiaspora.org

From UG Diaspora Think Tank at www.ugdiaspora.org - excerpt:
To date we have in the pipeline:

Literary piece in preparation on traffic/transportation modelling and its implications for Uganda

Literary piece on PPP/PFI procurement for delivery of Infrastructure and other service delivery in Uganda and its implications

Research programme and/or empowerment development action plan being developed

Topical debate on issues and ideas via the forum

Welcome any other ideas that are constructive and fit in with the theme

For ideas, action programmes, debate on topical issues and all other matters as specified in the objectives of our think tank theme  please email thinktank AT ugdiaspora.org
Good luck to all concerned!

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Uganda says "the war" has ended - N. Uganda assured of peace despite Kony’s tricks

December 01, 2008 report from APA-Kampala (Uganda)
NOTHERN UGANDA ASSURED OF PEACE DESPITE KONY'S TRICKS

Uganda Prime minister and head of government business in Parliament Professor Apollo Robin Nsibambi, on Monday assured people of northern region of continued peace in spite of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebel boss Gen. Kony’s failure to sign the peace agreement

He told journalists in Kampala that government has the capacity to offer protection to the people of the region and the rest of the country from any form of armed insurgence.

Nsibambi made the statement in reaction to the failure by Kony to appear at Ri-Kwangba a place designated for the signing of the agreement at the weekend.

He said government would be ready to do all within its means to bring peace to the entire country.

The minister also promised that the government is going ahead to implement the post conflict recovery program for northern Uganda since the war has effectively ended.

Kony's fate to be decided by a summit of regional leaders convened by Riek Machar

December 01, 2008 report from New Vision in Uganda by Henry Mukasa:
REGIONAL LEADERS TO DECIDE KONY FATE

UGANDA will consult regional leaders on the fate of LRA leader Joseph Kony, who refused to sign the final peace agreement over the weekend.

Defence state minister Ruth Nankabirwa said a summit of presidents of the countries in the region, convened by the chief mediator, Dr. Riek Machar, would advise on the talks.

Kony has in the past used durations of talks to re-arm, train, treat the wounded and mobilise in preparation for fighting.

Yesterday, after a briefing of what transpired during the meeting between Kony and leaders from the north at Garamba in Congo, the Government team returned to Kampala.

Only ministers Ruhakana Rugunda, the chief government negotiator and his colleague, Nankabirwa, remained in Juba where they held a closed-door meeting with Machar, who is also the South Sudan vice-president and Joaquim Chissano, the UN envoy to LRA-affected areas, at the Bridge Hotel.

In the evening, Rugunda, Nankabirwa and Chissano returned to Kampala aboard a UN helicopter.

Nankabirwa said Chissano informed the meeting of what he will report to the UN Security Council on December 16, but referred The New Vision to Rugunda for details.

Rugunda was reportedly in a meeting at press time.

However, sources in the meeting said the LRA team cited the arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Kony and his top commanders as a challenge to the talks.

“The LRA wants the provision in the final peace agreement on the ICC to be revisited and restructured,” the source said.

The team also said threats against Kony from people in Uganda and the Diaspora delayed the signing of the deal.

Machar confirmed that Kony said he would not sign the final agreement if the ICC warrants remain. He doubted that the elders would persuade Kony to sign the deal.

“But knowing his behaviour, he is probably elsewhere. I do not see new ideas that have come out of his discussions with the elders,” he said.

Chissano too expressed doubt about the peace deal.

“We do not expect there will be a signing soon.”

In the two-decade brutal war, the LRA have been accused of mass murders, amputation of survivors, abductions, looting, burning villages, sex slavery and forced recruitment of children into its ranks.

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