Sunday, October 31, 2010

Uganda says Sudan aware of LRA Kony's presence in Darfur, W. Sudan - CAR: "LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda"

JOSEPH Kony, leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) terrorist organisation, is hiding in Sudan's Darfur region after fleeing a pursuit by the Uganda army in Central African Republic (CAR), the army said on Friday.

"Joseph Kony is no longer in Central African Republic. He crossed into Sudan a few days ago but some elements of LRA commanded by Dominic Ongwen are still in CAR," Felix Kulayigye, defence ministry spokesman told a news conference.

An International Criminal Court (ICC) indictee, Kony often escapes into Sudan whenever he's pursued in CAR because the Ugandan army lacks the mandate to operate there, the army said.

Andrew Natsios [former U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan in 2006-7] on Tuesday said that elements within the Sudanese government loyal to the Islamist opposition leader Hassan Al-Turabi are seeking to derail the January 2011 referendum in order to avert what appears to be the likely separation of the South.

Natsios who just returned from a trip that took him to South Sudan said that while president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and his 2nd Vice president Ali Osman Taha are "moderates", he pointed fingers at pro-Turabi figures within the regime who do not want the South to separate.

Click here to read full story at Sudan Watch, parent site of Uganda Watch.

Related Reports

CAR: "LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda" - ICC Ocampo: "Violence it is not a ticket to power, but to The Hague"
Sudan Watch - Monday, 25 October 2010

Uganda, DRCongo seek new ways to fight insurgents - Nun offers refuge in Sudan - Religious leaders call on UN - LRA wants peace talks resumed
Sudan Watch - Sunday, 19 September 2010

URGENT MESSAGE TO PRESIDENTS BASHIR & KIIR - Shocking video of the LRA hunting children in Sudan
Sudan Watch - Wednesday, 08 September 2010

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Acholi clergy want LRA peace talks back

Acholi clergy want LRA peace talks back
Source: The New Vision.co.ug
Date: Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Written by Patience Aber:
THE Acholi Religious Peace Initiative has said it is still possible to bring Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) back to the peace talks table.

In a petition to the US signed by the chairman of the initiative, Bishop Johnson Gakumba, the religious leaders argued that they had spent a significant time dealing with the LRA conflict and, therefore, had a greater understanding of the implications of the conflict in the Great Lakes region.

“A negotiated end to the conflict that leads to the peaceful demobilisation of the combatants would be ideal and, therefore, should be pursued if there is a viable opportunity,” the petition read.

The leaders said it was important that they, as experienced peace builders, be given another opportunity to hold peace talks with the rebels.

“We also agree that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, and Sudan need to be brought on board for any strategy to be successful,” the religious leaders said.

This comes after the African Union agreed to support a joint military force by Uganda, the Central African Republic, the DRC and Sudan to fight the LRA.

However the former Gulu [RDC] Col Walter Ochora described as a joke, the belief by the Acholi Religious Peace Initiative [ARLI] that Joseph Kony and the LRA rebel can return to the peace talks table.

He said giving Kony and the LRA rebels another chance to return to the peace talks table will only give them the opportunity to reorganize themselves and cause more atrocities in the great lakes region.

“To believe that the LRA will return to peace talks is peace Jokes the only way to get rid of the LRA war, is to isolate its top commanders like Joseph Kony, Dominic Ogwen and Okot Odhambo,” Ochora said.

The faith based organization has also called upon the administration of US president Barrack Obama to involve the civil society in the LRA affected regions while implementing the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.

In May 2010 Obama signed into law the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act which renews US commitments and strengthens their capabilities to protect and assist civilians affected by the LRA war.

The Obama administration has until November 2010 to develop an implementation strategy.

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Activists, Victims Await US Action Against LRA

Activists, Victims Await US Action Against LRA
Source: Voice of America www.voanews.com
Date: Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Human-rights activists and victims are eagerly awaiting U.S. government action against the East Africa-based Lord's Resistance Army. A U.S. law signed earlier this year mandates President Barack Obama to devise a strategy before November 20 to stop the rampaging rebel group.

John Prendergast of the U.S.-based Enough Project was one of many activists who welcomed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act that was signed into law in May.

"You had a bipartisan consensus bill that had the highest number of cosponsors for an Africa-related bill in congressional history and the highest number of cosponsors for any bill in 2010," said Prendergast.

He says the onus now is on President Obama to stop this group which first started as a rebellion against Uganda's government in the 1980s and evolved into a brutal movement led by Joseph Kony.

"Twenty-five years have gone by where this guy has gone around, blitzing around northern Uganda and now into three or four countries in Central Africa still kidnapping kids, still cutting the lips off of women, still burning buses and villages and doing all kinds of stuff," Prendergast said. "Raping systematically in certain villages with a militia of no more than 600, 700 people, probably the highest ratio of damage to number of militia in the history of warfare, and we cannot do anything about that? No, you are going to do something about it."

Independent journalist Joe Bavier has been investigating recent activities of the LRA for the U.S.-based Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Bavier says the group scattered in several directions after the failed December 2008 joint attack on a LRA camp in the Garamba forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo by armies of several African countries, with logistical support from the U.S. government.

"They are everywhere. They have scattered in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo," said Bavier. "They loot, they carry out attacks in southern Sudan. Joseph Kony, himself, and Okot Odhiambo, one of the other commanders that is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, have been been operating in southeastern Central African Republic. The impact has been felt in an area where there has basically been no protection of civilians."

Since late 2008, the United Nations and aid groups estimate that the LRA has killed more than 2,000 people, abducted a similar number, and displaced hundreds of thousands of others.

Bavier who has been to areas where the LRA recently committed atrocities says people there are aware of the U.S. law and have very high expectations.

"It is a wish list, basically. They really do hope and expect, even in a lot of cases, the Americans deploy troops on the ground in LRA-affected areas, and take care of the military side of this, personally. And they also expect a lot of humanitarian assistance in these areas," he said.

But Bavier says a complicating factor to the issue is that reports indicate Kony may be seeking safety in the war-wracked western Sudan region of Darfur.

"He has long been an ally of Khartoum. And if he can find safe haven and support in Darfur and perhaps create alliances with pro-Khartoum militias, like the janjaweed in Darfur, we may be looking at a whole new ball game," Bavier added.

The janjaweed are pro-Khartoum militias accused of committing atrocities against civilians in Darfur. Like Joseph Kony, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - charges he denies and calls a Western plot against him.

Kony faces several dozen charges, including murder, sexual enslavement and rape. He has also denied the charges, describing himself as a freedom fighter guided by the Bible's Ten Commandments. Kony says accusations against him are propaganda by Uganda's government.
Further Reading

CAR: "LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda"
- ICC Ocampo: "Violence it is not a ticket to power, but to The Hague"


THE African Union (AU) is helping four nations in central Africa build an international army to corner cross-border guerrillas in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). This new army, with soldiers from Uganda, Sudan, Central Africa Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) will pursue the LRA across borders. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamara says it's an encouraging plan that the AU will back. Click here to read full story at Sudan Watch, Monday, 25 October 2010.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

UN report details several incidents where Ugandan troops (UPDF) are accused of atrocities in DR Congo 1993-2003

A draft UN report into conflicts in the DR Congo from 1993 to 2003 details several incidents where Ugandan troops (UPDF) are accused of atrocities such as the massacre of civilians, torture and destroying infrastructure that led to civilian deaths.

Ugandan forces backed the Congolese rebels who toppled then president Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and occupied various parts of eastern DR Congo until 2003.

The report, expected to be published Friday, is based on data collected by UN investigators from July 2008 to June 2009 and aims to expose "crimes never previously documented" during the ten years of the DR Congo conflict.

Full story below.

UN report jeopardises Uganda role in peace missions
(AFP) – Thursday 30 September 2010:
KAMPALA — Uganda has warned that a United Nations report implicating it in war crimes in DR Congo jeopardised its commitment to regional peace missions, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Thursday.

Uganda leads an African Union force in Somalia where it has some 4,300 men and much smaller numbers of military and police personnel in south Sudan, Darfur, Ivory Coast and East Timor.

"Such sinister tactics undermine Uganda's resolve to continue contributing to, and participating in, various regional and international peacekeeping operations," said the letter by Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa to the UN.

The draft UN report into conflicts in the DR Congo from 1993 to 2003 details several incidents where Ugandan troops (UPDF) are accused of atrocities such as the massacre of civilians, torture and destroying infrastructure that led to civilian deaths.

Ugandan forces backed the Congolese rebels who toppled then president Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and occupied various parts of eastern DR Congo until 2003.

The report, expected to be published Friday, is based on data collected by UN investigators from July 2008 to June 2009 and aims to expose "crimes never previously documented" during the ten years of the DR Congo conflict.

But the Ugandan minister termed the document "a compendium of rumours, deeply flawed in methodology, sourcing and standard of proof."

He said Uganda "rejects the draft report in its entirety and demands that it not be published."

The International Court of Justice had in a 2005 ruling found that Uganda violated international human rights law and international humanitarian law during its occupation of parts of DR Congo.

The Hague-based court ordered Uganda to pay reparations to Kinshasa, but Kampala has yet to comply.

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