Congo Watch: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

US military provided 17 advisers, $1m in fuel, satellite phones and intelligence for raid on LRA in DR Congo

The US sent 17 advisers from AFRICOM to work with UPDF on Operation Lightning Thunder against LRA in DR Congo.

Source: Sunday Monitor report by Angelo Izama, Kampala 25 February 2009:
US, Uganda to discuss military cooperation
A US military official, Brig. Gen. D. Christopher Leins is in Uganda to discuss military cooperation.

This visit comes in the backdrop of a New York Times article which revealed details of US military assistance to the UPDF in operation “Lightning Thunder”.

The article said, at the request of Uganda, the US sent 17 advisers from its new Africa Command to which Gen. Leins belongs, to work with UPDF on the Garamba operation.

It also said the US military provided a million dollars in fuel as well as satellite phones and intelligence for the operation which it said was personally authorised by ex-US President George Bush.

Yesterday, Army Spokesman, Felix Kulayigye said the UPDF had made no further requests for assistance from the American military and that there was no “on-going” assistance currently to operation Lightning Thunder.

Earlier, the army in a press release said Gen. Leins and the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Aronda Nyakairima, met at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Mbuya and discussed mutual cooperation.

In a follow-up interview, Maj. Kulaigye said Lightning Thunder was only mentioned in brief and that the discussion was focused on training assistance for officers.

The US Embassy also said the hunt for Kony had not been discussed.

Rwanda priest Emmanuel Rukundo jailed for genocide

BBC report Friday, 27 February 2009
Rwanda priest jailed for genocide:
A former Rwandan priest has been given a 25-year jail sentence for committing genocide, sexual assault and kidnapping during the 1994 killings in Rwanda.

Emmanuel Rukundo, a former army chaplain, took part in the abduction of Tutsis who sought refuge at a seminary, many of whom were later killed.

A UN war crimes court also convicted him of the attempted rape of a young Tutsi woman.

Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days.

Rukundo was arrested in Geneva in 2001 and will receive credit for the time already spent in detention.

The court said that Rukundo monitored local Tutsis and was often accompanied by soldiers and militiamen during the violence.

"The accused was found to have abused his moral authority and influence to promote the abduction and killing of Tutsi refugees," the UN court said.

"Rukundo's acts were clearly part of the genocide," said Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva after the judgement had been delivered.

"When he committed these crimes, he intended to completely or partially destroy the Tutsi ethnic group."

Prosecutors had demanded life in prison for Rukundo.

He is the second Roman Catholic priest to have been convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.

Rukundo has up to 30 days to appeal against his sentence.
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RWANDA'S 1994 GENOCIDE

6 April: Rwandan Hutu President Habyarimana killed when plane shot down
April-July: An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed
July: Tutsi-led rebel movement RPF captures Rwanda's capital Kigali
July: Two million Hutus flee to Zaire, now DR Congo

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ugandan LRA rebels attack across CAR border-colonel

Ugandan LRA rebels attack across CAR border-colonel
Wed Feb 25, 2009
By Paul-Marin Ngoupana
BANGUI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Ugandan rebels crossed into Central African Republic and ambushed an army patrol triggering clashes that killed several fighters, a colonel in the republic's armed forces said on Wednesday.

The ambush raises fears of more attacks in Central African Republic by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters fleeing a Ugandan-led multinational offensive against their hideouts in northern Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Our men were on a routine patrol on Friday when they were ambushed by LRA fighters," said the army colonel, who declined to be identified. The attack happened in the remote southeast of the country, which is sandwiched between Congo and Sudan.

"They were routed by the heavy retaliation from our soldiers. One of our officers and a soldier were injured ... I cannot give the exact number we killed, but those who survived were chased to the other side of the Sudan border," he said.

LRA rebels have killed nearly 900 civilians in a string of reprisal attacks against villages across the border in northeastern Congo since the Ugandan army began an offensive against their positions there in mid-December.

The LRA and its reclusive leader Joseph Kony has waged a 22-year war against the Kampala government, devastating northern Uganda through years of killing, looting and kidnapping of children as fighters, porters and sex slaves.

Kony and many of his fighters left their hideouts in southern Sudan in 2005 and established bases in northeast Congo's Garamba National Park, which Ugandan warplanes targeted in a bombing spree when it launched its latest campaign.

The LRA fighters have since spread out and split up into several different groups.

Fearing they would cross the border, Central African Republic sent extra soldiers last month to step up patrols in its remote southeastern region, where LRA fighters invaded and kidnapped around 150 people in a looting spree in early 2008.

"The chief of staff sent several military detachments to reinforce our soldiers and they are mounting daily patrols to defend against any eventuality and prevent the LRA who have been hunted and dispersed in small groups in the forest of Congo and southern Sudan ending up in our territory," he said.

Isolated and chronically poor despite gold, diamond and uranium deposits, CAR faces its own internal conflicts.

Bands of gunmen and several rebel groups are still active in the north despite talks late last year that was meant to end years of instability. (Writing by Alistair Thomson; Editing by David Lewis and Katie Nguyen)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Arrow Boys confront LRA in Sudan's Western Equatoria State

From Miraya FM (Sudan) Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Boys confront LRA in Western Equatoria:
A group of fighters known as arrow boys that are spread in various parts of Western Equatoria State expressed readiness to fight the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) that has engaged in attacks against civilians lately in the State.

The Arrow boys are group of boys who use traditional weapons such as bows, arrows, spears and clubs, treated with poisonous to fight the Lord Resistance Army LRA.

The arrow boys are all over the Western Equatoria State but particularly from Maridi, Mundri, Ezo and Ibba counties.

Raphael Monuku the head of the Arrow boys in Manikakara Payam in Ibba county, said that, "LRA movement appears to be a defeated movement, it has no access to ammunitions and any warfare machinery after joint military attacks launched by the Ugandan, and Congolese troops in mid December 2008.

Reports said that the LRA are using axes, knifes, and woods, to kill the innocent civilians.

The recent attacks on Manikakara in Western Equatoria State caused a lot of destructions and deaths both in Ibba and Maridi Counties.

As a result the citizens especially in the LRA spotted areas don't sleep anymore in their houses, in fear for a surprise attack by the rebels.

But the question remains, can the arrow boys with their manner of fighting be able to defeat the LRA after the Government of South Sudan refused to arm the citizens of Western Equatoria to defend themselves for security considerations.
- - -

Arrow Boys: A Ugandan Militia Fights Off the LRA

After terrorising Uganda for 20 years, the LRA has met its match.
By Peter Eichstaedt in Soroti, Uganda (No. 51, 19-Jan-2006)
At the Thursday market in Arapai, about ten kilometres outside of Soroti on Uganda’s dry eastern plains, you can get just about anything.

You can buy a cow, a goat, a bicycle, fat stalks of fresh sugar cane, dried peanuts, handmade rope, or even have your machete sharpened.

Fifty kilos of dried kasava root can be ground by hand on a flat stone into flour for bread that will feed you for a month.

The most popular item in the market is malwa, the locally made brew. It’s a lightly fermented grain served in clay pots with hot water and sipped through a long reed.

You can sit in the shade of the thatched roofs for several hours and drink all you want for about 25 US cents. It’s the way locals spend the day, meet friends and catch up on the latest news.

That locals safely walk miles to crowd this market is due to a feared homegrown militia called the Arrow Boys formed less than three years ago.

These local fighters have quickly become the only organised force to defeat the infamous Lords Resistance Army, which for the past 20 years has terrorised northern Uganda, southern Sudan and eastern Congo.

The LRA has kidnapped thousands of boys and girls, converting them into vicious child soldiers and sex slaves. Those who resist are brutally killed or maimed and left to die.

But the Arrow Boys are inflicting serious losses on the LRA.

When the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued indictments this past fall against LRA leader Joseph Kony and four of his top commanders, one was already dead.

“We put him out of action,” said Robert Adiama, one of the militia founders who served as its top intelligence officer. He is now the district’s top government official.

“The LRA faced their first blow in Teso,” he said of the region around Soroti, adding that the Arrow Boys killed or captured more than 40 LRA commanders in the past couple of years.

The key to the Arrow Boys’ success against the LRA has been strong community support and an efficient intelligence network.

“When the LRA is going to move south from Pader,” said Adiama, “we know about it three days ahead of time.” Pader is one of Uganda’s northern districts where the LRA continues to cause havoc despite the presence of the Uganda military.

“We help the people,” he said. “We prepare the community to respond and ask the government for help in doing it.”

The government support comes in weapons distributed throughout villages. And, when an LRA attack occurs, the militia is quickly formed and pursues the rebels.

“The only way to control the situation is rapid response,” explained Adiama.

Because the Arrow Boys have been so successful, they have been incorporated into the ranks of the Ugandan military and have received training, weapons and pay.

The Arrow Boys also protect the region against raids by the Karamajong, the notorious neighbouring ethnic group that has a reputation as cattle rustlers.

“They kill our people when they come,” said Adiama. “They steal our cattle.”

One Arrow Boys commander recently ordered Karamojong cattle rustlers to be shot on sight. The order has resulted in three deaths, one by hanging and decapitation.

“We are not an aggressive people,” insisted Adiama. “If they (Karamajong) want our cows, they can buy them. If they think we have their cows, take us to court.” Otherwise, he says, “armed men stealing cows should be shot”.

Because of years of attacks by the LRA and the Karamajong, thousands of Teso people live in the protected refugee camps serviced by the World Food Programme.

But this, he says, has created social problems, “The people of Teso are not used to camp life. It is like being in prison.”

Although some in the Arrow Boys recently have been accused of selling weapons for cash, skimming money from payrolls and random violence, it has not dampened local enthusiasm for them.

“They rescued me from the LRA,” said Daniel Emoru, a 40-year-old who rides a bicycle and sells pottery.

His father-in-law was killed by rebels and children from his village were taken. But with the Arrow Boys, he says, “We feel safe because the rebels no longer roam the area.”

In the village of the Arasai, where just two years ago the LRA killed 20 villagers and kidnapped four children, one of whom is still missing, the Arrow Boys are admired.

“If possible, they should increase their numbers,” said one villager as he and others played the traditional African game of komweso.

“They have worked hard,” said Jackie Okurut, 45, who weaves rope in the shade of his tiny stall at the Arapai market. “We are now in peace because they did good. Let them continue their work because the Karamajong are still bothering us.”

Under the shady pavilions where they serve malwa, the sentiment is the same. “We are now safe,” said Celestion Elibu, one of the patrons, “but we are still haunted by the memory of our dead relatives.”

Most still turn a wary eye to the north where the LRA remains active. Because of them and the Karamajong, the Arrow Boys remains a vital regional defense force.

“I have a lot of hope the security will improve as long as the government remains stable,” said Adiama, but quickly added, “while the LRA is active, the region is vulnerable.”

Ugandan militia:  The Arrow boys

Villagers near the eastern Ugandan town of Soroti enjoy a game of omweso in a region cleared of LRA rebels the local militia called the Arrow Boys. Peter Eichstaedt photo.

Peter Eichstaedt is a senior editor with the Uganda Radio Network. URN correspondent Joseph Elunya contributed to this report.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Anglican Archbishop of Sudan has called on the UK and US to help catch Kony

BBC report 23 February 2009 by Martin Plaut, BBC Africa analyst - excerpt:
The Anglican Archbishop of Sudan has called on the UK and US to help catch Ugandan rebel, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Joseph Kony.

Daniel Deng said he believes he is hiding in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan.

LRA attacks have increased since forces from Uganda, South Sudan and DR Congo launched an assault on him in December.

The archbishop told the BBC Mr Kony's capture appeared beyond the abilities of the governments of the region.

Central Africa has already suffered 20 years of terror inflicted by the LRA.

On a visit to London, the archbishop said that international support was needed to locate him and "bring him to book".
See full report: West asked to catch Uganda rebel.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Amnesty International USA demands that UNMIS tells ICC & MONUC of whereabouts of Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen

From Amnesty International USA
PRESS RELEASE
February 18, 2009

United Nations should not aid fugitives from international justice

Amnesty International is demanding that the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) co-operates with the International Criminal Court (ICC) by providing the whereabouts of Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen to facilitate their arrest and surrender.

In a letter to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Amnesty International expressed its concern that UNMIS were preparing to help return the two men, who are leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), to their native Uganda. Ugandan officials have repeatedly and publicly stated that they will not arrest and surrender the LRA leaders to the ICC.

“UNMIS is bound by the Negotiated Relationship Agreement between the ICC and the UN, which requires that the two bodies cooperate closely with each other,” said Martin Macpherson, Amnesty International’s International Law and Organizations programme. “If UNMIS were to hand the two men over to the Ugandan authorities, the UN would effectively help prevent their arrest and surrender to the ICC and this would amount to an obstruction of justice.”

Amnesty International urges UNMIS immediately to provide the ICC, as well as the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), with all information about the whereabouts of Odhiambo and Ongwen to facilitate their arrest and surrender to the ICC. The same information should be provided to any state that is able and willing to arrest and surrender the suspects to the ICC.

The organization also calls on UNMIS not to facilitate the return of the two men to Uganda unless Uganda pledges to arrest them immediately and surrender them to the ICC.

Background

The arrest warrant for Okot Odhiambo lists 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enslavement and forced enlisting of children. The arrest warrant against Dominic Ongwen lists seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enslavement and inhumane acts.

During 2008 and in the past months of 2009, LRA forces are believed to have abducted hundreds of people including women and children, and committed a number of other human rights violations, including unlawful killings, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, southern Sudan and the Central Africa Republic.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

LRA fighters trapped: Congo spokesman

LRA fighters trapped: Congo spokesman
February 14, 2009 KINSHASA (AFP) —
The remnants of the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army are trapped by opposing forces in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo and will have to surrender, a Congolese government spokesman said Saturday.

"We think that Joseph Kony is with them," he said, referring to the head of the LRA, the target of a joint operation by Congolese, Ugandan and south Sudanese forces launched in December.

"The hard core of the Lord's Resistance Army is in a swampy forest in the Garamba national park," spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP, putting their numbers at about 250.

"They have no way out of these swamps except to surrender," he said.

Mende said the rest of the LRA had surrendered or disbanded, adding that the aim of the joint operation against the rebels had almost been achieved.

He said that Congolese President Joseph Kabila and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni would meet on the border between their two countries before the end of February to assess the situation.

The Ugandan spokesman for the joint operation said it was "just a matter of time" before the LRA was finally defeated, but refused to say how long it might take.

"Operations will... go on until Kony terrorists are routed out of DRC," Deo Akiiki said, adding that "reviewing will only occur where necessary."

Contacted by telephone from Kampala, Akiiki said the "LRA's capacity to abduct and kill has been gravely reduced since the ground forces took control of the situation."

"They are being starved and no longer have time to sit or plan as our forces reduce their numbers daily," he said. "We are sure we now have got all and it is a matter of time till we stop LRA madness once and for all."

Operation Lighting Thunder was launched on December 14 after Kony repeatedly balked at signing a peace agreement already inked by Kampala in April 2008.

The LRA began its rebellion against Kampala more than two decades ago and is accused of committing atrocities against civilians in northern Uganda, south Sudan, northeastern DR Congo and the Central African Republic.

The operation has been criticised for sparking revenge attacks by the rebels against unprotected civilians in the remote border region.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said Tuesday that the LRA had carried out attacks of "appalling brutality," calling the situation "very worrying."

The United Nations said late last month that 130,000 people had been displaced in northern DR Congo after fresh LRA attacks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Congo, Rwanda forces kill 40 Hutu rebels in air raids

From Bloomberg
Congo, Rwanda Forces Kill 40 Hutu Rebels in Air Raids (Update2)
By Franz Wild, February 13, 2009:
Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwandan military forces said they killed more than 40 Hutu rebels during air attacks.

The joint force yesterday staged an air raid on a group of commanders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, who were meeting in Kashebere, in the Masisi area of Congo’s eastern North Kivu province, according to a statement signed by operations chief Lieutenant-General John Numbi.

Congolese and Rwandan forces are fighting together to oust the rebels from eastern Congo, a region from which they have staged attacks against Rwanda. The coalition “just moved into higher speed by using air support to increase pressure on” the FDLR, according to the statement.

About 4,000 Rwandan soldiers on Jan. 20 crossed into Congo’s North Kivu province to launch the joint mission to forcibly disarm the FDLR. The group’s leaders sought refuge in Congo’s forests after taking part in the killing of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

Several attempts to eradicate the Hutu rebels have triggered wars in the region in which more than 5 million people have died since 1998, mostly due to war-related hunger and disease.

FDLR Killings

In response to the offensive, the FDLR has “brutally slaughtered” about 100 civilians and raped more than a dozen women, including a nine-year-old girl, New York-based Human Rights Watch said today in an e-mailed statement. Others were stopped from leaving their villages, it said.

“The FDLR have a very ugly past, but we haven’t seen this level of violence in years,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “We’ve documented many abuses by FDLR forces, but these are killings of ghastly proportions.”

Ground forces destroyed a “heavily defended” FDLR division headquarters near Nyabiondo, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) northwest of Goma, the capital of North Kivu, according to the statement by the joint operations force.

“Here too the death toll is very heavy,” it said. “The survivors threw the bodies of their companions in the river.”

The FDLR accuses civilians who live near them of betraying its fighters, said Jerome Monobo, a civil society leader in Nyabiondo.

“The people are totally traumatized, they don’t know what to do,” Monobo said today on the phone from Nyabiondo. “They’re too scared to get food in the fields.”

FDLR spokesman Laforge Fis had two mobile phones switched off or out of network coverage when Bloomberg News called seeking comment.

Air Strikes

The air strikes came in response to FDLR fighters firing on a helicopter from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, Monuc, which was in the area to encourage rebels to disarm and return to Rwanda, according to the statement.

Monuc confirmed its helicopter had been fired on. It couldn’t yet confirm the air strikes, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich said today on the phone from Kinshasa, the capital.

Congo turned on the FDLR, with which it collaborated last year, UN investigators said in a December report, in exchange for Rwanda’s arrest of rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda. Rwanda on Jan. 22 detained Nkunda, whose fighters last year defeated Congo’s army in several battles, displacing 250,000 civilians in North Kivu.

Nkunda’s military chief General Jean Bosco Ntaganda, who last month deposed Nkunda, has since agreed to integrate his forces into Congo’s army and join the FDLR hunt.

Peacekeepers

Monuc, which has 6,300 peacekeepers in North Kivu, has been unable to protect civilians because they haven’t been informed about the strikes, Human Rights Watch said.

Another rebel group in Congo, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, responded to attacks by Congolese and Ugandan forces on its jungle headquarters by killing more than 900 civilians in the Haut-Uele region in December and January, according to the UN.

Congo’s President Joseph Kabila on Jan. 31 said Rwanda’s troops would leave before the end of this month. Ugandan troops, who are still pursuing the LRA near the border with Sudan, are scheduled to leave tomorrow, he said.

Congo’s 85th army brigade, which is made up of former militia fighters, has left a mining zone it controlled in the western Walikale region of North Kivu to be integrated with other forces, army spokesman Captain Olivier Hamuli said today by phone from Goma.

The news was welcomed by tin miner Kivu Resources Ltd., which in October suspended plans to develop its Mpama Bisie concession, the country’s biggest, because of the insecurity the soldiers caused.

Congo, Africa’s top tin producer, ships three-quarters of its tin exports out of Goma.

“We’re hoping they will keep the military off the mine now,” Kivu Resources Managing Director in Congo Brian Christophers said by phone from Johannesburg. “If the security is correct, we’ll return, but we still have to wait and see.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lubanga–incarcerated in The Hague, thousands of miles away from his stronghold–still wields great influence in Ituri

From Coalition for the ICC's blog In Situ 6 February 200 by Freddy Kitoko
The future of the ICC rests on the success of its first trial
Since the Lubanga trial opened on 26 January, we in the Congo have been closely watching proceedings unfold at the International Criminal Court. The trial’s opening sparked keen interest among victims affected both directly and indirectly by the successive abuses of power that the DRC has come to know. But the retraction of the statement made by an ex-child soldier witness who fought in Thomas Lubanga’s army, the U.P.C., has resulted in diminished interest among Congolese observers.

To us it is clear that Mr. Lubanga–incarcerated in The Hague, thousands of miles away from his stronghold–still wields great influence in Ituri where his supporters continue to almost blindly obey him. This was perhaps never more the case than when the Court announced it would suspend his trial. Large numbers of people in Ituri prepared for the return of “the liberator” as some referred to him.

Last week’s incident also highlights the fact that the Prosecutor’s office did not give sufficient guarantees to the witness, in terms of his own security and the security of his loved-ones who live in Ituri. His loved-ones could have easily been targets of retaliation by Lubanga’s followers who stand ready to receive their leader should he ever be released.

We have always expressed our concerns about the quality as well as the quantity of evidence that the prosecution holds and the way the victims and witnesses were selected. We hope that this episode is only a minor incident and that the rest of the trial will continue normally because in the end, the court is gambling with its credibility during this first, most historic of trials.

Freddy Kitoko is a Congolese lawyer with the Lubumbashi Bar and member of the human rights organization, African Association of Human Rights (ASADHO).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

British, Ugandan army chiefs discuss volatile DR Congo, Somalia

British, Ugandan army chiefs discuss volatile DR Congo, Somalia
February 11 2009 report by Xinhua from waltainfo.com:
British and Ugandan army chiefs met here on Monday and discussed the security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and Somalia, a statement from the Ugandan army said.

According to the statement from the army's spokesman's office, Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of General Staff of the British Army and Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, Chief of Defense Force of Uganda People's Defense Force, discussed Uganda's hunt for rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army in eastern DR Congo and its peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The statement did not give details of the discussions but said Gen. Dannatt had come to follow up on issues of mutual concern and military cooperation.

This was the first time since Uganda, a former British colony, gained independence in 1962 that a British general of that level visited the country.

Gen. Nyakairima said the Ugandan military has now built up capacity which has enabled it to defend the country and execute pan-African missions.

He told his guest that local problems need local solutions and therefore the need to build the capacity of the Ugandan army, since it plays a significant role in regional stability.

Gen. Dannatt pledged continued cooperation in training and capacity building of the Ugandan army, noting that Britain has historical ties with Africa and has a responsibility to maintain it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

DR Congo: New LRA attacks force Congolese to flee to Southern Sudan

Report from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Date: 10 Feb 2009:
DR Congo: New LRA attacks force Congolese to flee to Southern Sudan

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 10 February 2009, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

At least six people were killed and another 21 kidnapped Saturday night in an attack by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's resistance Army (LRA), on the town of Aba in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The LRA rebels also plundered the local Protestant parish and hospital.

This latest attack sent thousands of Congolese fleeing to Southern Sudan. According to our team in Southern Sudan, some 5,000 Congolese refugees from Alba arrived over the weekend in the town of Lasu, some 50 kms from the DRC border. They said thousands more are on the way. The refugees told UNHCR staff in Lasu on Sunday that 90 per cent of Aba's 100,000 population had fled the town and many more could be expected to arrive in Southern Sudan in the next few days. Our team witnessed large concentrations of refugees in three locations along the Lasu-Yei road. The new arrivals are occupying schools and church buildings along the road.

People in DRC's north-eastern Oriental province have been exposed to brutal and deadly attacks by the LRA since last September. A rough estimate of the total number of people forcefully displaced since then now stands at almost 150,000. Some 900 Congolese have been killed by the Ugandan rebel group over the past five months in the north-east.

Meanwhile, our team in Dungu, a regional centre in the Haut Uele territory of the north-east DRC, trained 60 local Red Cross officials and others on conducting a re-registration exercise in the neighbouring villages around Dungu. The aim of the exercise is to obtain more accurate information about the displaced population and their intentions.

Relative calm is returning to areas around Dungu and our partners report the first signs of return to a number of villages north of the town. We continue to rush aid to the area. Over the weekend a second convoy of 14 trucks brought another shipment of plastic sheeting, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets and soaps. These aid items will be distributed to the displaced population sheltering in the villages south of Dungu.

Peter Eichstaedt to speak at luncheon in Iowa Friday

From Press-Citizen Press-Citizen 10 February 2009:
Eichstaedt to speak at luncheon Friday

Peter Eichstaedt, Africa editor for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, will present "First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance" at a noon luncheon of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council on Friday at Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton St. in in Iowa City.

Eichstaedt has worked as a journalist and news media adviser in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Afghanistan and most recently Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. His book is based on his experiences and research in Uganda during 2005 and 2006.

He has been a journalist, editor and author for more than 30 years and was a recipient of a Fulbright grant in journalism in 1998-99 in Slovenia and Moldova. Eichstaedt's talk is part of a series of events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council.

Masala will cater the event. Reservations are $7.50 for council members and $8.50 for nonmembers. The deadline to register is noon today.

For more information call 335-0351 or visit http://international.uiowa.edu.
Peter, if you are reading this I hope it will be possible for you to meet up with Dr. David Leffer who lives and works in Iowa. I've emailed this article to him today.

"First Kill Your Family"

See Congo Watch January 09, 2009: Peter Eichstaedt's book on the LRA, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army

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.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

ICC trial of Lubanga off to an ‘inauspicious’ start

From The East African
ICC trial of Lubanga off to an ‘inauspicious’ start
By PAUL REDFERN
Saturday, February 7 2009

The International Criminal Court is being accused of failing the first practical test of its status as a war crime tribunal — in the way in which it has failed to asses the merits of key witnesses in the trial of the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga.

The trial of Lubanga, which started in The Hague last week, faced confusion from the start over whether witnesses could face prosecution back in the Democratic Republic of Congo for what they say in The Hague.

Lubanga faces charges of using child soldiers, in a case which some hoped might pave the way for other show trials, such as for members of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

The Times newspaper said that most worrying of all was the “botched handling of the first witness, a former child soldier.

“Incredibly, the main prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who has been preparing for six years for this momentous occasion, failed to stay after his opening remarks last Monday. It was left to his deputy, Fatou Bensouda, to examine the first witness last Wednesday, a young man purported to have been recruited into Mr Lubanga’s militia. But with her clumsy questioning, Ms Bensouda failed to coax any cogent evidence out of him and she was left floundering as he returned after the lunch break to retract that he had even been a child soldier.”

The court was hastily adjourned and it has now heard that this vulnerable young man is considered “not in a proper condition to continue giving evidence” by the ICC’s Victims and Witnesses’ Unit.

“It was an inauspicious start for a noble project,” the Times said. “Who could dispute, in principle, that the world is not a better place for a forum that can pursue and prosecute its worst renegades? But it is not just in Court One at The Hague that the ICC is not living up to high expectations.

“The story has been well told of how Joseph Kony, leader of the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, walked out of peace talks with the government the moment he heard that the ICC had issued a warrant for mass murder against him.”

Questions have also arisen as to whether the search for peace in Sudan has been set back by the charges of alleged genocide and crimes against humanity which the ICC issued last July against President Omar al-Bashir.

One consequence has been that the African Union has now agreed a one-year suspension of the process against Mr al-Bashir on the grounds that it would damage the peace process in Sudan — amid claims that Africa is being unfairly targeted as a testing ground for the court.

Critics said that despite these controversies, the Lubanga case was a golden opportunity to show what international justice means in practice.

However, the Times pointed out that the court president, the British High Court judge Sir Adrian Fulford, had nearly called off the trial in the summer when it emerged that the prosecution had used confidentiality agreements to withhold possible exonerating evidence.

As a result, Sir Adrian had ordered that Mr Lubanga be set free because he could not receive a fair trial but he then allowed an appeal, which eventually led to the disclosure by the prosecution that allowed the trial to go ahead.

But the UK paper points out that there has also been “widespread concern at the narrow scope of the charges against Mr Lubanga, all three of which focus on his recruitment and use of child soldiers under the age of 15 and say nothing of allegations of systematic rape and other atrocities said to have been committed by his Union of Congolese Patriots.

“Fundamental to the success of the charges that Mr Lubanga does face will be the testimony of the child soldiers themselves,” the report said. “But if the first witness was chosen to showcase the court’s competence in dealing with this sensitive challenge, it chose badly.

“Although screened effectively from the press and public, and his voice disguised electronically, the unnamed witness could be seen by all in the courtroom. From his seat in a corner of the court, Mr Lubanga could be seen craning his neck to get a good look at him, to the surprise of Congolese journalists who thought he would be shielded from the warlord.”

Moreover, despite assurances that his identity would be protected, the prosecution asked the young witness his date of birth in open court and also the names of the friends he was with when allegedly recruited by Mr Lubanga’s militiamen.

“For a young man traumatised by war and facing a roomful of 20 lawyers and three judges for the first time, under the impression he would have his identity protected, the whole experience must have been disturbing, to say the least,” the Times said

Critics acknowledge that international justice is not easy, but the success of the ICC may well “depend on how it cares for the most vulnerable people caught up in its pursuit of high-profile quarry,” the report concludes.

Uganda Army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye denied official knowledge of Odhiambo’s reported plans to surrender or defect

From The East African
Mystery over LRA deputy’s offer to surrender to govt
By HALIMA ABDALLAH K.
Posted Saturday, February 7 2009

The Lord’s Resistance Army second-in-command, Okot Odhiambo may surrender, but his chances of amnesty remain bleak as the army wants him to account for his actions.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) last week confirmed that Odhiambo had contacted them offering to surrender to government forces with the IOM as an observer but it denied knowledge of Odhiambo’s whereabouts.

On the other hand, Uganda Army spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye denied official knowledge of Odhiambo’s reported plans to surrender or defect but insisted he must account for his actions.

“The army does not know where he is but if he really plans to surrender, we shall receive him, but he must account for his actions,” said Kulayigye.

Equally, the Amnesty Commission, the body set up by an Act of parliament to handle pardon and repatriation for surrendering rebels, told The EastAfrican that it had not received any request to prepare for Odhiambo’s impending surrender from either the government or the IOM.

Commission Chairman Justice Peter Onega said that even if he received a request, he would consult the government because Odhiambo still faces ICC indictments.

According to the current law, should Odhiambo surrender, he would be eligible for amnesty regardless of the crimes, but it would be a contradiction for him to be granted amnesty when it is the government that accused him at the ICC, Onega said.

Analysts say that it is this situation that has left the government unsure of what to do. Some people have even speculated that Odhiambo could already be in Ugandan custody but the government must first find a way out of the legal maze before making the news public.

LRA and government negotiators reached an agreement after nearly two years of negotiations in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba, but LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the deal, paving the way for the joint operation against him by the armies of Uganda, Southern Sudan and the DRC.

In its statements, the IOM said the LRA commander was to surrender with 85 people including abductees and combatants, although it later amended its statement to deny that the wanted commander would come into its custody.

Friday, February 06, 2009

U.S. military helped plan and pay for attack on Ugandan LRA rebels

So, my hunch of some sort of American military involvement with Uganda was correct. The following report tells us that the US has been training Ugandan troops in counterterrorism for several years.

THE NEW YORK TIMES
U.S. Military Helped Plan and Pay for Attack on Ugandan Rebels
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: February 6, 2009

DUNGU, Congo — The American military helped plan and pay for a recent attack on a notorious Ugandan rebel group, but the offensive went awry, scattering fighters who carried out a wave of massacres as they fled, killing as many as 900 civilians.

The operation was led by Uganda and intended to crush the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal rebel group that had been hiding out in a Congolese national park, rebuffing efforts to sign a peace treaty. But the rebel leaders escaped, breaking their fighters into small groups that continue to ransack town after town in northeastern Congo, hacking, burning, shooting and clubbing to death anyone in their way.

The United States has been training Ugandan troops in counterterrorism for several years, but its role in the operation has not been widely known. It is the first time the United States has helped plan such a specific military offensive with that country, according to senior American military officials. They described a team of 17 advisers and analysts from the Pentagon’s new Africa Command working closely with Ugandan officers on the mission, providing them with satellite phones, prized intelligence and $1 million in fuel.

No American forces ever got involved in the ground fighting in this isolated, rugged corner of Congo, but human rights advocates and villagers here complain that the Ugandans and the Congolese troops who carried out the operation did little or nothing to protect nearby villages, despite a history of rebel reprisals against civilians.

The troops did not seal off the rebels’ escape routes or deploy soldiers to many of the nearby towns where the rebels slaughtered people in churches and tried to twist off the heads of toddlers.

“The operation was poorly planned and poorly executed,” said Julia Spiegel, a Uganda-based researcher for the Enough Project, which campaigns against genocide. The massacres were “the L.R.A.’s standard operating procedure,” she said. “And the regional governments knew this.”

American officials conceded that the operation did not go as well as intended, and that villagers had been left exposed.

“We provided insights and alternatives for them to consider, but their choices were their choices,” said one American military official who was briefed on the operation, referring to the African forces on the ground. “In the end, it was not our operation.”

Maj. Felix Kulayigye, a Ugandan military spokesman, declined to discuss the American involvement and simply said, “There was no way to prevent these massacres.”

The Lord’s Resistance Army is now on the loose, moving from village to village, seemingly unhindered, leaving a wake of scorched huts and crushed skulls. Witnesses say the fighters have kidnapped hundreds of children and marched them off into the bush, the latest conscripts in their slave army.

Here in Dungu, a 10-year-old girl lay comatose on a bare metal hospital bed, her face glazed with sweat, her pulse hammering in her neck. She had been sexually assaulted in a nearby village and shot in both legs, bullet through bone.

“The people who did this,” said her nurse, Rosa Apamato, “are demons.”

This used to be a tranquil, bountiful spot where villagers grew corn, beans and peanuts, more or less untouched by the violence that has plagued the eastern part of this country. But thousands have recently fled, and the town is now crawling with soldiers, aid workers and United Nations personnel, the movable cast that marks the advent of a serious problem.

The villagers who remain are terrified and confused. The Lord’s Resistance Army is not a Congolese movement. It is from Uganda. But once again, it seems that foreign armies are battling it out in Congo, and the Congolese are paying the price. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Congo became the battlefield for more than a dozen armies and rebel groups from neighboring African countries, and several million Congolese died.

“Who are these L.R.A.?” asked Bertrand Bangbe, who had been axed in the head and left for dead. “Why are they here? Why are they killing us?”

There are few answers. The Lord’s Resistance Army may have had some legitimate grievances when it started more than 20 years ago as a cultish rebellion to overthrow the Ugandan government. The fighters hailed their leader, Joseph Kony, as a prophet and a savior for the historically oppressed Acholi people. The movement even proclaimed to be fighting for the Ten Commandants.

But it soon devolved into something more sinister. The Lord’s Resistance Army killed tens of thousands of people in northern Uganda, slicing off people’s lips and terrorizing children, before the Ugandan Army drove it out about five years ago. Mr. Kony then marched his prepubescent death squads and dozens of teenage brides to Garamba National Park, a vast reserve of elephants and swamps near the border of Uganda and Sudan.

The Ugandan government has tried coaxing Mr. Kony out. But the International Criminal Court in The Hague has indicted him on charges of crimes against humanity, and he has long insisted the charges be dropped. In November, as he has many times before, Mr. Kony refused to sign a peace treaty.

After that, Major Kulayigye said, “the only option left open to us was the military option.”

The Ugandan government asked the American Embassy in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, for help, and the request was sent up the chain of command in November to President Bush, who personally authorized it, a former senior Bush administration official said.

The American advisers and Ugandan officers used satellite imagery and Ugandan field intelligence reports to triangulate where they believed Mr. Kony and his fighters were hiding. The plan was for the Ugandan military to bomb his camp and then cut off his 700 or so fighters with more than 6,000 Ugandan and Congolese ground troops. On Dec. 13, the day before the attack, several American advisers traveled to a staging site near the Uganda-Congo border for a final coordination meeting, a senior American military official said.

Thick fog delayed the attack by several hours, Ugandan officials said, and they lost the element of surprise. By the time Ugandan helicopters bombed Mr. Kony’s hut, it was empty. Ugandan foot soldiers, hiking many miles through the bush, arrived several days later and recovered a few satellite phones and some guns.

The Ugandans say they have destroyed the rebels’ control center and food supplies, rescued around 100 abducted children and killed several fighters, including some commanders. But the operation has been widely criticized by human rights groups as essentially swatting a hornet’s nest.

On Dec. 25, around 5 p.m., villagers in Faradje, a town near the national park, walked out of church as 50 to 70 armed men emerged from the bush.

Most villagers had no idea who they were. Some Congolese towns had been attacked before the offensive, yet the raids were not so widespread that word would have trickled back to remote places like Faradje.

The armed men spoke a strange language (probably Acholi), but there was no misunderstanding them after the first machete was swung. Whoever could run, did. Christine Ataputo, who owns the one restaurant in town, watched from the forest floor as the rebels raped, burned and butchered. She was lying on her belly when she saw that her 18-year-old daughter, Chantal, had been captured.

“They took her away on a rope,” she said.

Chantal has not been seen since, and even more than a month later, Faradje still has the whiff of char. Around 150 people were killed Christmas Day. Several other villages, some more than 100 miles away, were simultaneously attacked. In one town, after the rebels killed 80 churchgoers, they ate the villagers’ Christmas feast and then dozed among the corpses, according to Human Rights Watch, which documented the massacre.

“These guys are just moving around, doing whatever they want, killing, raping, whatever,” said Charles Gaudry, a field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, which says more than 50 villages in the area where it works have been attacked. “There’s zero protection.”

The United Nations has more than 16,000 peacekeepers in Congo, including about 250 in Dungu. But United Nations officials said they were spread too thin in other war-racked parts of eastern Congo to take on the Lord’s Resistance Army. At the time of the nearby massacres, the peacekeepers in Dungu were guarding the airfield.

Villagers across the area are now banding together in local self-defense forces, arming themselves with ancient shotguns and rubber slingshots. In the past in Congo, home-grown militias have only complicated the dynamic and led to more abuses.

Even where there are Congolese troops, there is not necessarily protection. The family of the 10-year-old girl in the hospital said she might have been shot by a Congolese soldier who missed the rebel who was assaulting her.

The other night, by the light of a flashlight, a young doctor took one look at the girl and ordered her evacuation to Goma, a city along the Congo-Rwanda border. She may lose one of her legs, he said. But at least in Goma there is a special hospital to treat girls who have been raped. In eastern Congo, there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of them.

LRA top commander Dominic Ongwen planning to surrender to Ugandan government?

From Ultimate Media via ugpulse.com 6 February 2009:
Uganda Government News: Another LRA top commander to surrender

Another top commander of the Lords Resistance Army, Dominic Ongwen is also planning to surrender to the Ugandan government.

Okot Odhiambo, the LRA second in command has already contacted the International Organisation for Migrations to help him surrender in return for assurances of amnesty.

Odhiambo told French news agency AFP that he and Ongwen are together and are ready to surrender and give up fighting. Odhiambo says they are ready to surrender with the 120 LRA rebels which are with them in their hideout.

Ongwen is among the top LRA rebel leaders who were indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The others are Okot Odhiambo, Joseph Kony as well as Raska Lukwiya and Vincent Otti who have since died.

If the two top leaders defect, it will be a serious blow to LRA leader Joseph Kony who will be further isolated, having lost four of his top fighters.

This comes at a time when the LRA leader today asked the government for a ceasefire to be able to finalize peace negotiations and sign a peace agreement. The Uganda army has been with the help of DRC and South Sudan soldiers having military operations against the LRA in their bases in Garamba, DRC.

The Uganda army has said the news of top LRA leaders asking to surrender is evidence that he military operation codenamed Operation Lightening Thunder has been successful.

Odhiambo and Ongwen are wanted by the ICC over a raft of war crimes charges, including raping, killing civilians and forcibly enlisting child soldiers.

The two men 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.

Brigadier Patrick Kankiriho, the Ugandan army officer commanding the military operations said yesterday that the army was in negotiations with the rebels on how they can surrender safely.
See related post at Congo Watch today, 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?

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?
POSTSCRIPT FROM CONGO WATCH EDITOR

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.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Leopold Munyakazi, a French teacher in US, accused of genocide

An official at Rwanda's embassy in Washington said Rwanda had asked for Leopold Munyakazi (pictured here below) and five others to be returned to the country. Mr Munyakazi had been teaching near Baltimore in the US since last year.

Teacher in US accused of genocide

Source: February 3, 2009 report from BBC:
Teacher in US accused of genocide

A college near the US city of Baltimore has suspended a Rwandan professor over accusations he participated in the African country's genocide.

Leopold Munyakazi had been working at Goucher College near Baltimore under a programme for academics whose lives are threatened at home.

He has denied any involvement in Rwanda's genocide.

Some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias in just 100 days in 1994.

Mr Munyakazi, a Hutu, told the Associated Press news agency that he had been persecuted by Rwanda's government.

He said he had been held without trial in Rwanda from 1994 to 1999 on accusations of genocide.

"I'm not hiding; I was never involved in genocide," he said.

Sanford Ungar, president of Goucher College, said in a letter to students and faculty that he became aware of charges against Mr Munyakazi when a journalist and a Rwandan prosecutor came to the college in December.

They told him of witnesses testimonies that Mr Munyakazi, 59, had "participated directly" in the genocide.

Charges had been prepared in 2006 after Mr Munyakazi had given a "controversial talk" in the US questioning the Rwandan government's version of the genocide, Mr Ungar said.

"Dr Munyakazi vehemently denies any involvement in committing genocide, and in fact has presented evidence that he assisted numerous Tutsis in fleeing Hutu killers," the letter said.

Mr Ungar said the Rwandan, who started teaching French at the college in September, would be suspended from his job pending further investigation.

An official at Rwanda's embassy in Washington said Rwanda had asked for Mr Munyakazi and five others to be returned to the country.

UPDF has 3 days to leave DRC?

February 3, 2009 report from Ultimate Media via ugpulse.com:
Uganda Government News: UPDF has 3 days to leave DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Prime Minister, Adolphe Muzito has said that the Uganda People’s Defense forces soldiers who are hunting LRA rebels in DRC have only three days remaining to leave the DRC.

He says that the Ugandan soldiers have up to February 6 to end its operations against LRA fighters code named operation Lightening Thunder.

Uganda, Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo launched a joint military operation against LRA rebels on December 14th but the Congolese government insists all foreign armies should leave the country as has been agreed.

However, the UPDF spokesman, Maj. Felix Kulaigye told Ultimate Media at the National Security Building on Jinja road that Uganda will sit-down with their DRC counterparts once the 3 days expire to review their operation against Kony and his LRA fighters.

“I can not tell you now whether UPDF will continue to stay in DRC after the three days expire or not.But the army will tell all Ugandans the next step once the four days expires,” he said in an interview.