Congo Watch: Why are the LRA in DR Congo in the first place? Why didn't Uganda solve the Kony problem sometime during the 20 years he fought in Uganda?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Why are the LRA in DR Congo in the first place? Why didn't Uganda solve the Kony problem sometime during the 20 years he fought in Uganda?

Commentary from Peter Eichstaedt today, 6 February 2009, followed by my postscript:
Dominic makes two

The French Press Agency is reporting that Dominic Ongwen, another deputy commander of the Lord's Resistance Army, also wants to surrender to Ugandan forces fighting in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The possible surrender of Ongwen follows last week's request by LRA deputy commander Okot Odhiambo, who is currently negotiating the terms of a surrender.

If true, the defection and surrender of these commanders would leave Kony largely isolated, yet still with the bulk of his army in the DRC, said to be some 600 or 700 men.

The surrender of both these men would be a huge success for the Ugandan army and theoretically for the international community since both are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"Dominic Ongwen is here with me, we are together," Odhiambo told AFP by phone from his jungle hide-out, adding they had 120 LRA fighters with them.

Meanwhile, word continues to trickle out about the possible surrender of the deputy commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, Okot Odhiambo.

According to the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala, the Ugandan army commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brig. Gen. Patrick Kankiriho, has given Odhiambo a map sketching out where Odhiambo and his men can surrender.

The options are several locations, or any church or the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC) outpost.

“I sent him a sketch map of areas where he can report. I told him if he cannot report in those areas where the UPDF is, he can go to any church or the UN,” Kankiriho told the Monitor.

The church suggestion is ironic since Odhiambo and his men are thought to have been behind a slaughter in a church of about 50 people in the Doruma area in December.

This communique to Odhiambo is the first hard information that the negotiations, which began last week, are still on-going with the rebel unit, said to nubmer about 85 people, including about 45 soldiers, 20 abductees and non-combatants.

"If Odhiambo responds and says he is at point A, then we will know he is serious. We will not hurt him. We can even leave our guns behind and we get UN to escort us and we meet him,” Kankiriho said.

If Odhiambo surrenders, it will be a major success for the Ugandan military strike that began Dec. 14 and sent the LRA, lead by Joseph Kony, on a killing rampage that has taken the lives of nearly 1,000 civilians in the region.

But how long the Ugandan army can or will stay in northeastern DRC? Congolese officials have set today, Friday, Feb. 6, as the deadline for Uganda's withdrawal from the region.

The deadline makes no sense, of course, given the current negotiations, but the Congo is under pressure to rid itself of foreign forces. Neighboring Rwanda currently has about 2,000 troops in the Kivu provinces of eastern DRC, who are ridding the region of the Hutu militias.

The two situation are virtually unrelated, but problematic, none-the-less.

Certainly, simple logic dictates that Uganda should continue this operation against Kony and the LRA, since in both this situation and the Kivus, the DRC is incapable of controlling or solving the problem.

But this also raises the question whether Uganda can solve the Kony problem as well. Given the botched operation that began the current mess, there are serious doubts for any permanent solution.

The question also arises as to why Kony and his army are in the DRC in the first place. Why didn't Uganda solve the Kony problem sometime during the 20 years he fought in Uganda?

What makes Uganda think it can do the job now?

Why are the LRA in the DR Congo in the first place?! And why hasn't Uganda solved the Kony problem during the 20 years he fought in Uganda? I have asked myself the exact same questions for five years without getting close to any answers, except to say that the following two reports make the most sense to me:

Jan. 14, 2009 - Congo Watch: Ugandan LRA are agents of forces who are against South Sudan's peace agreement

Jan. 12, 2009 - Congo Watch: Kony's Ugandan LRA is a well-ordered fighting force, whose senior officers have been trained by Sudan, Iran and Iraq

Now, the sixty million dollar question is: who are the agents of forces who are against South Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)? The archives of this site's parent blog, Sudan Watch, show that Al-Qaeda is entrenched in Khartoum and that most of Sudan's oil is in Southern Sudan. Citizens of North Sudan, where most of Khartoum's supporters reside, would have a lot to lose if South Sudan votes to break off on its own, which the CPA enables them to do. The Darfur war started in earnest when the CPA was close to becoming a reality. I have recorded very little about the 22 year long civil war in Southern Sudan but it is interesting to note that the LRA have managed to survive for almost as many years. The reason I started Congo Watch and Uganda Watch was to file reports on the activities of the LRA as it moved in and out of Sudan and its neighbouring countries. In my experience of blogging Sudan, Uganda and Congo, I sense that LRA activities are definitely connected to certain events and developments in Sudan. Some days I even wonder if the Americans are behind the LRA! Which doesn't make sense at all as the Americans want to see peace and democracy in Southern Sudan, not for the CPA to fail.


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