Monday, September 26, 2005

Uganda seeks extradition of deputy LRA leader

Uganda is negotiating with Congo and the UN for the extradition of a leader of the notorious rebel Lord's Resistance Army, the foreign minister said on Monday.

Ugandan officials had said on Friday that LRA deputy chief Vincent Otti and 50 other rebels had fled to north-eastern Congo and were seeking asylum.

Full report Sep 26, 2005 (AP/IOL)

Note, the report ends by saying:
The rebel force once had the support of Sudan, which had allowed it to use Sudanese territory as a rear base, because Uganda supported the then rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Since a peace agreement was signed in January between the former southern Sudanese rebel group and the Sudanese government, Sudanese officials have been discussing with Uganda how to end the northern Uganda rebellion.
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Uganda's peace process is extremely fragile

Sep 26 BBC report DR Congo to deport Ugandan rebels.
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Ugandan Police Deployed in Darfur

Sep 26 report at the Monitor says at least 56 Ugandan police officers have been deployed to Darfur in Southern Sudan [Darfur is in Western Sudan] on a peacekeeping mission.


Congo army says will forcibly disarm Ugandan rebels

MONUC report Sep 26 confirms the Democratic Republic of Congo's army said on Sunday it would forcibly disarm 400 Ugandan rebels who have crossed into the northeast of the country and are refusing to lay down their weapons:
"A regional military commander, General Padiri Bulenda, told Reuters he would have to disarm the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in order to prevent thousands of Ugandan soldiers from crossing the border into the Congo to hunt them down."
The report ends by saying:
"Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly warned Congo's fragile transitional government that he would take action against Ugandan rebels in Congo if he felt they were a threat to his country.

A source close to Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila called the presence of Ugandan soldiers on Congo's border "a distraction from pressure being applied on Museveni because of his meddling in Congo and attempts to prolong his presidency at home"."
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Museveni to occupy Southern Sudan?

A blogger in America, Menya Kilat, has an interesting theory on connections between Uganda and Southern Sudan and wonders if LRA leader Kony is the red herring to allow Museveni occupy Southern Sudan.

It is a theory I do not share. But, when it comes to African politics, nothing would surprise me.

The US recognises the LRA as a terrorist organisation.

A report today by the BBC says Kony remains with his fighters in southern Sudan and the UN says it has held a meeting with LRA rebels for the first time.

Kony's deputy Vincent Otti is in DR Congo talking to the UN. Uganda says Otti and about 50 fighters left their hideouts in southern Sudan's lawless mountains last week and crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday.

[Cross posted to Sudan Watch and Congo Watch]


LRA commander Joseph Kony remains with his fighters in southern Sudan

The UN says it has held a meeting with a group of the Ugandan rebels, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), for the first time. Full story (BBC)

Note, the report says LRA commander Joseph Kony remains with his fighters in southern Sudan. Reuters says his time may be running out.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Let's Not Forget the Children of Uganda

Carolyn Davis, editorial writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer, has published an Op/Ed, titled "Let's Not Forget the Children of Uganda," which highlights Uganda-CAN's Prayer and Action Weekend for the Children of Northern Uganda happening now!

She writes, "This weekend is a nationwide 'Prayer and Action Weekend for the Children of Northern Uganda,' an idea conceived in Philadelphia. The Washington-based Uganda Conflict Action Network has mounted a national campaign to get ministers, rabbis, imams and priests to tell their congregations about this war. Stir them with knowledge into asking the United States to lead in bringing it to an end."


Uganda demands immediate withdrawal of HRW report

The Uganda government has demanded that the US based rights group, Human Rights Watch immediately withdraws its report on alleged widespread human rights abuses in northern Uganda.

Sep 24 New Vision article says the controversial 76-page report repeatedly said abuses of civilians by UPDF in northern Uganda were perpetrated with impunity, that no effective accountability structure exists in the camps and that there is a lack of Police presence in the region.
Defence minister Amama Mbabazi said, "The Government of Uganda demands for the immediate withdrawal of the report. Uganda cannot but conclude that Human Rights Watch has abandoned its impartiality and allowed itself to be part of a partisan campaign in the run up to the 2006 elections. Indeed, the American human rights body is acting like a mouthpiece for the political opposition."
Note, the article says Mr Mbabazi also told journalists in Kampala that LRA's number two Vincent Otti and a group of rebels had sought political asylum in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said Uganda, Congo and Sudan were in talks to end the LRA terror.

Uganda-CAN notes a HRW official in Uganda denied the minister's claims and said they "would stand by the accuracy of the report."


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Uganda's rebel LRA use torture to instil fear

Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has become synonymous with torture, abductions and killings

Gulu victim

BBC photo: The LRA use torture to instil fear

"They tied me and laid me down. They told me not to cry. Not to make any noise. Then one man sat on my chest, men held my arms, legs, and one held my neck".

"Another picked up an axe. First he chopped my left hand, ... read the rest in Uganda's atrocious war by Will Ross, BBC Kitgum Uganda.


Who are the LRA? Q&A: Uganda's northern rebellion

The UN's head of humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, has described the situation in northern Uganda as the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world.

Some 20,000 children have been caught up in a conflict between government forces and a group known as the as the Lord's Resistance Army. More than one million people have fled their homes.

LRA targeting IDP camps

BBC Photo: The rebels are targeting camps for displaced people

Who are the Lord's Resistance Army?

Read BBC's Q&A: Uganda's northern rebellion to find out.

Note, the US recognises the LRA as a terrorist organisation.


Ugandan LRA rebel chief 'in DR Congo'

The deputy leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army rebel group is seeking asylum in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda's defence minister says.

DR Congo denies receiving an asylum request from the rebel official, Vincent Otti.

The LRA has operated from bases in northern Uganda and southern Sudan for nearly 20 years.

Soldier Child

Photo: A soldier nursing a survivor, said to be the child of Vincent Otti.

Read Uganda's fallen child rebels by Callum Macrae, Film-maker and journalist. (BBC)

Uganda's LRA abduct children

Photo: The LRA is notorious for child abductions.

See Child soldier pictures, the life of a former rebel child soldier and his double escape. (BBC)


Northern Uganda: In pictures - Night commuters

Every night in northern Uganda, tens of thousands of children, known as night commuters, flow into town centres.

They come seeking safety in shelters set up by aid agencies, with the Ugandan government unable to end a brutal 18-year war and protect them from rebel attacks.

At a centre known as the Arc in Gulu town, hundreds of boys will share the floor. See BBC news In pictures: Night commuters.

One of the reasons why children walk the lengths they do is because of scenes like this.

Northern Uganda:  In pictures - Night Commuters

A child stands outside a burnt home in an internally displaced persons camp near Soroti town because of a cooking fire that swept through a quarter of the camp.

Such fires are common in the camps and result in thousands of injuries and deaths each year.

Words and images: Jake Price, Hikari pictures
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Prayer and Action Weekend for the Children of Northern Uganda

On September 23-25, faith leaders and communities around the world will speak out to raise attention to the forgotten plight of children in northern Uganda.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Uganda says top LRA rebel wants asylum in Congo

The deputy leader of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is asking for political asylum in Congo after fleeing into its remote northeastern jungles, Uganda's defence minister said today.

Uganda says Vincent Otti and about 50 fighters left their hideouts in southern Sudan's lawless mountains last week and crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday.

But the Congolese government said on Friday it had no information about the group's presence on its territory or of any asylum request.

See full story Sep 23 2005 (Standard)


UN envoy says LRA to blame for violence in South Sudan

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Sudan, Jan Pronk, said a Ugandan insurgent group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), was to blame for much of the violence in southern Sudan.

The group had hindered de-mining work and the opening of roads in the area, he added.

See further posts re LRA and Uganda-CAN at Sudan Watch September 23 2005. Not had a chance to cross-post them here at Uganda Watch.


British Council holds festival for African writers

Forty-five African writers from 19 countries including Nigeria would next month participate in a literature festival in Kampala, Uganda.

Tagged "Beyond Borders: A Festival of Contemporary African Writing", the event will be held between October 19 and 21.

The Director of British Council Uganda, Mr. Richard Weyers, says, "The literature festival will be one of the largest gatherings of African writers in Africa to take place for several decades. It is a unique creative networking event that would broadcast to the world the richness of African and UK writing."

Participating writers have been drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. From Nigeria, writers like Chika Unigwe, Tolu Ogunlesi, Helon Habila, Olubunmi Julius-Adeoye and Rotimi Babatunde are taking part in the festival.

Renowned Sudanese writer, Taban Lo Liyong, and Ivorien Veronique Tadjo are other writers participating in the festival, which will provide a platform for established and emerging writers, those in exile or have now returned home, to discuss the role of a writer and the state of contemporary writing across Africa today.

See full story Sep 23 2005 (DI)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

US promises support for military operations to fight LRA

Xinhua reports that US National Security Advisor Steve Hadley has assured Uganda of his country's cooperation in the planned joint operation between Uganda, Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) against remnants of rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

On a group of LRA ebels entering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through southern Sudan, Hadley said US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton will take up the matter of UN Observer Mission in Congo to improve UN presence and performance in the DRC.

LRA rebels have killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced over 1.4 million people in their 19-year-old rebellion in northern Uganda.

[via Uganda-CAN with thanks]


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Africa's peace seekers: Betty Bigombe

It was a CNN "breaking news" flash that first caught her eye.

On the chilly morning of Feb. 22, 2004, Betty Bigombe was racing around her cozy condo in Chevy Chase, Md. She was focused on paying bills, packing for a business trip, and hoping to squeeze in a workout.

Walking past her bedroom TV, she suddenly froze. In her native Uganda, the anchor said, the Lord's Resistance Army had just massacred more than 200 villagers. They had forced entire families to stay inside huts - then set the houses alight, shooting anyone who ran out. Ms. Bigombe remembers whispering, "Oh, my God, I can't believe it's still happening."

Her own picture appeared on the screen. The reporter explained that Bigombe, a former government minister in Uganda, was the one person who'd ever gotten the rebels and the government close to peace. But that was back in 1994.

Now the ongoing barbarity in her homeland filled her with shame. Standing there in her nightgown, she was deeply torn. Should she go back to Uganda to help? Could she afford to lose her well-paying job at the World Bank? Could she stand to leave her college-age daughter alone in the US? After hours of pondering, she concluded, "Maybe ... maybe I can give it another try."

Read full story at by Abraham McLaughlin, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, September 13, 2005.

Africa's peace seekers:  Betty Bigombe

Photo: Betty Bigombe with Lord's Resistance Army negotiators. (James Akena/Reuters/CS Monitor)

Betty Bigombe biography

1954 Born in northern Uganda

1981-84 Became corporate secretary of the Uganda Mining Corporation

1986 Elected to parliament

1988 Appointed minister of state for pacification of northern Uganda

1993 Named Uganda's 'Woman of the Year' for her peace efforts

1997 Received master's degree from Harvard

1997 Appointed senior social scientist at postconflict department of the World Bank

Children: Pauline and Emmanuel

Africa's peace seekers:  Betty Bigombe

Photo: FREED: Betty Bigombe (center) with two Ugandan women who were kidnapped as girls and raped by LRA commanders. Recently, the women and their children escaped their captors. (Courtesy of Joyce NEU/Joan B Kroc Institute for Justice & Peace/CS Monitor)



Click here to see at a glance Uganda's fitful path toward peace under Museveni.

President Museveni

Pictured above is President Meseveni Inking his thumb after casting a ballot in the 1996 elections. (Tomoaki Nakano/AP/CS Monitor)


Photo: FLEEING After rebel attacks, villagers jump in Army trucks. (Karel Prinsloo/AP/CS Monitor)

Sudan: Spotlight on Darfur 1 and The Darfur Collection

Huge thanks to Catez Stevens in New Zealand for initiating and hosting Spotlight on Darfur 1, a great round up of posts authored by 14 different bloggers from around the world.

Spotlight On Darfur

Catez also produced The Darfur Collection last May.

Please email Catez at Allthings2all if you have a post for the next Spotlight on Darfur 2 or 3.

Picture courtesy Tim Sweetman's post Let Us Weep.

Thanks to Global Voices for their third post and links to my blog Congo Watch featuring this initiative.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Ugandan asylum seekers being deported from the UK?

Today, I came across a post at Uganda Anarchism entitled "Uganda women to be traded by UK & Uganda governments" and do not know what to make of it. Parts of the post make serious accusations of asylum seekers' ill treatment in the UK. Note this excerpt:
"They dump us in detention centres where we suffer again from poor medical attention, bad food, harassment and sexual intimidation by male staff, false accusations and racism causing us more trauma. We have been denied the opportunity to make our claims properly through cuts in legal aid, negligent or even corrupt lawyers, and racism and sexism in decisions refusing our claims.

Some of us have been forced onto planes with the most appalling brutality and regardless of the justice of our claim. Women are continuing to fight for our rights and against deportation - we deserve safe accommodation not imprisonment, because we are not criminals, we are simply asylum seekers who deserve protection under international law. It would be better to die in a British rather than a Ugandan detention centre."
Corrupt lawyers? Appalling brutality? Considering everything else they say about their treatment UK, they make it sound worse than Uganda, the country they fear returning to. If their experience in the UK is as bad, which I do not believe for one moment, why do they want to stay? I hesitated at posting a link to this report but could not bear to ignore it, just incase someone, somewhere on the Internet reads this and may be able to help somehow, even to help the people concerned when they arrive back in Uganda.

Making serious claims of maltreatment, brutality, corruption, etc., within a country in which one is fighting to stay does not seem at all sensible. British authorities will know such allegations are a nonsense which casts doubt on the truth of their reasons for claiming asylum. All I know is I certainly could not do the job of an immigration officer. I would find it all too heartbreaking and let everyone in. It must be very difficult for everyone involved. I am sorry to read about anyone in such a predicament and hope things work out for the best for all concerned. God bless them all.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina aid - Blogbursts - Spotlight on Darfur 1 and Darfur Collection

Further to an earlier post here below, I have just received word from Catez saying Spotlight on Darfur has been put forward to 5 September as the blogosphere has had planned blogbursts on Hurricane Katrina aid.

This means bloggers can email Catez with posts until Sunday 4 September.

Thanks to Global Voices for picking up on my post at Congo Watch publicising the initiative.


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