Congo Watch: Mandate given to UPDF to hunt for LRA inside DRC extended to Friday February 13

Monday, February 09, 2009

Mandate given to UPDF to hunt for LRA inside DRC extended to Friday February 13

February 9, 2009 report from The Daily Monitor (Kampala) by Grace Matsiko & Agencies:
I’m ready to surrender - Odhiambo

Joseph Kony’s deputy in the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, Okot Odhiambo has said he is serious about surrendering to the UPDF after over two decades in rebel activities.

Odhiambo, told AFP, on Friday, that he is defecting with the presumed LRA’s third-in-command, Dominic Ongwen, a development once effected will further isolate Joseph Kony. Both commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Odhiambo, one of Kony’s trusted commanders had recently announced his intention to surrender to the UPDF but his announcement caused mixed reaction on whether he was serious. “I am very serious about defecting and I have spoken to the general (Kony) about this,” Odhiambo told the French news agency. Asked how Kony responded, Odhiambo said: “That is between me and the general.”

Odhiambo told the news agency by phone from his jungle hide-out that he had 120 LRA fighters with him. He said Kony was alive and unscathed by the bombing raids by the UPDF jet fighters on his headquarters on December 14.

Odhiambo and Ongwen decided to turn themselves in after the governments of Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo launched a joint military offensive to flush holdout LRA rebels in their border hide-outs. But Brig. Patrick Kankiriho, the UPDF officer commanding the joint raid, told Daily Monitor, that time was running out for Odhiambo and the other fighters to surrender. “We shall not take him seriously unless he surrenders. We are ready to give him any guarantees if he shows seriousness but he should remember that time is running out,” Brig. Kankiriho warned.

The spokesman for the UPDF troops in DRC, Capt. Deo Akiiki, said contrary to media reports that the 21-day mandate given to UPDF to hunt for LRA inside DRC ended on Friday, the deadline has been extended to this Friday (February 13). “We expect the military chiefs from both countries to review our operations and give a way forward,” Capt. Akiiki said. “This implies that they can either decide we (UPDF) continue the hunt for LRA or otherwise. So it isn’t correct to make conclusions for such a strategic meeting,” he added.

On January 23, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and his DRC counterparts, held a meeting at Dungu joint task force tactical headquarters and extended the UPDF stay in Congo for 21 more days. This happened after the expiry of the initial 31 days and review of the situation on ground.

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