Congo Watch: Uganda still pursuing LRA

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Uganda still pursuing LRA

Commentary by Peter Eichstaedt Thursday 09 July 2009:
Uganda still pursuing LRA
A new reports suggests that the Ugandan army may be in pursuit of units of the Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic, despite its reported withdrawal from the region several months ago after the failed attempt to kill or capture the rebels fighters and their leader, Joseph Kony.

According to an article in today's Kampala weekly Observer by Edris Kiggundu, the Uganda army is hot on the heels of LRA forces led by Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen holed up in the Central African Republic, along with another LRA commander named Bok Abudema.

If the report is correct, it would fall in line with the government's suggestion that the fight is not over between Uganda and the LRA. And, it would support rumors that the contingent of advisers left behind in the DRC, supposedly to help the Congolese army finish the job, are more than that.

According to recent reports by escapees of the LRA, including one of Kony's top wives named Lily Atong, a significant LRA force retreated to the CAR. It makes sense that this would be the Odhiambo-Ongwen group, the apparent second and third top commanders of the LRA.

It would follow the tried-and-true tactic of the LRA to fragment and scatter, which allows it to operate in relatively independent groups and makes the LRA all the harder to effectively capture and/or eliminate.

Odhiambo and Ongwen were the two commanders who claimed they were willing to surrender earlier this year when the hunt for the LRA was in high gear with the Uganda's reportedly 3,000-strong force.

The two LRA commanders were in contact with an aid group that was working as an intermediary, but nothing came of it. The two commanders, along with their force of several hundred fighters, faded into the jungle.

According to the Observer, two units of the Ugandan army, the 301st and 309th brigades, have been given two weeks for the operation. At least one of these brigades is said to be composed of former LRA fighters, who are perhaps the only ones in the Ugandan army who have the stomach and endurance to effectively take on the LRA.

According to the article, the Ugandan army has also scored recent unreported victories against some scattered units of the LRA that have been wreaking havoc around Yambio, the capital of the Western Equatoria Province of South Sudan.

These attacks have been reported on a very limited basis, and sadly the only defense has been from poorly equipped local militia forces known as Arrow Boys. The name is apt because they are largely only armed with bows and arrows, and hardly a match for the LRA.

But what about Kony? The former wife of Kony said that the psychotic self-proclaimed prophet of his Acholi ethnic group, was frantic after the attack on his camps last December 14.

Apparently he is still in the vicinity of the Garamba National Park in northeastern DR Congo. If Uganda finds some success in the CAR, is Kony next?

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Posted By Peter Eichstaedt to Peter Eichstaedt at 7/09/2009

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