Congo Watch: September 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

UN battles arms trafficking in Congo - DRC and Ugandan armies are cooperating with UN forces

U.N. battles arms trafficking in Congo
From UPI - September 23, 2010 at 4:13 PM
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- U.N. peacekeepers are patrolling the Congo-Uganda border amid reports that the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army is trafficking arms in the area, an official said.

"This concern stems from information on the seizure in Uganda of vehicles transporting arms," Lt. Col. Amadou Gueye, a spokesman for the U.N. Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Wednesday at a weekly news briefing in Kinshasa, U.N. News reported.

"Measures to halt this traffic include first of all continuing to patrol this frontier with our units deployed in the sector," Gueye said, adding that the DRC and Ugandan armies are cooperating with U.N. forces.

The LRA operated in Uganda for 20 years before expanding its operations into Congo and Sudan. The group is accused of war crimes including mutilations and the use of child soldiers, U.N. News said.

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DR Congo: 6 civilians killed in LRA attacks -MONUSCO

DR Congo: MORE CIVILIANS KILLED IN LRA REBEL ATTACKS
Source: Missionary International Service News Agency (MISNA)
Date: 23 September 2010 - via ReliefWeb
At least six more civilians were killed this week in attacks in the Orientale Province, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, by Ugandan rebels of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) headed by the visionary Joseph Kony.

According to the United Nations stabilisation mission in DR-Congo (MONUSCO), three civilians, including the village chief, were killed on September 15 in Liakanda, in the Dungu district.

The following day a group of traders was attacked in Nambili, in the Haut-Uélé district, by rebels who killed three and abducted another two, looting their belongings.

The MONUSCO also refers of the possible death of another civilian the day after in Ngilima.

The UN stabilisation mission also expressed 'concern" over reports of a possible LRA involvement in arms trafficking toward Uganda, through Sudan and DR-Congo.

The LRA, originally active in North Uganda, took refuge in the forests of the Congolese Orientale Province, launching attacks, killing and abducting civilians over the past three years in DR-Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The indiscriminate attacks by the rebels have caused wide discontent among the civil society and religious leaders of the three countries. The Congolese and Ugandan governments in the past days announced new joint operations against the rebels. [BO]

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sudan seeks Congo's support for candidacy to head ATU

Sudan seeks Congo's support for candidacy to head ATU
From Afrique en ligne (afriquejet.com) - Thursday, 23 September 2010:
(Brazzaville, Congo) - Sudan is seeking the support of Congo for its (Sudan's) candidacy for the leadership of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU). The Sudanese Minister of Communications, Information and Technologies, Ms Theresa Iricio Iro, arrived in Brazzaville Wednesday to make the request for support.

She was received by her Congolese counterpart, Thierry Moungalla.

Congo is hosting, from Thursday (23Sept), the 3rd ordinary session of the ATU conference, at which the new leadership of the union will be elected.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Uganda offers to train DR Congo troops

THE Ugandan and Congolese armies are conducting joint operations against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in DR Congo and the Central African Republic.

Congolese troops fighting rebels from the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) in eastern DR Congo close to the Ugandan border are benefiting from Ugandan intelligence.

Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and his Congolese counterpart, Charles Mwando, who will meet again in November, agreed to do everything possible to neutralise the LRA and the ADF, a joint statement said.

In another recent sign of willingness to cooperate, the Ugandan government in June arrested a rebel chief operating in eastern DR Congo, Gadi Ngabo, the head of the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

Full story below.

Uganda offers to train DR.Congo troops
(AFP) – Tuesday, 21 September 2010
KAMPALA — Uganda has offered to train troops of the Democratic Republic of Congo, its former foe, army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said Tuesday.

"It is the first time that Uganda is offering her military academies to train Congolese government soldiers," Kulayigye told AFP, adding the offer followed a two-day bilateral meeting that ended Sunday in Kampala.

The meeting was between Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and his Congolese counterpart, Charles Mwando.
In recent years Kampala has trained a plethora of Congolese rebel groups that fought in DR Congo against the Kinshasa government, other proxy groups or amongst themselves.

Kulayigye said it was too early to talk about the training timetable or the number of troops who will participate.

"Uganda offered training space at its military academies to DRC forces. The timetable is to be done by the Congolese when they are able to implement the decision," he said, adding that troop numbers still need to be worked out.

The meeting at the weekend was a follow-up to the Ngurdoto agreement signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Congolese counterpart, Joseph Kabila, in Tanzania in 2007 to normalise relations between the two countries.

The Ugandan and Congolese armies are conducting joint operations against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in DR Congo and the Central African Republic.

Congolese troops fighting rebels from the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) in eastern DR Congo close to the Ugandan border are benefiting from Ugandan intelligence.

The two ministers, who will meet again in November, agreed to do everything possible to neutralise the LRA and the ADF, a joint statement said.

In another recent sign of willingness to cooperate, the Ugandan government in June arrested a rebel chief operating in eastern DR Congo, Gadi Ngabo, the head of the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

Ugandan troops and their rebel allies invaded DR Congo twice, in 1996 and again in 1998. Even after they withdrew in large numbers over the period 2002-2003, Ugandan troops have made numerous incursions into DR Congo, mostly in pursuit of LRA rebels.

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S. Sudan: SPLM accuses NCP of supporting LRA to disrupt S. Sudan independence vote

SPLM accuses NCP of supporting LRA to disrupt S. Sudan independence vote
From Bor Globe Network www.borglobe.com - 22 September 2010 at 1:08 pm by Mabior Philip
Juba, Sudan (Borglobe) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement has accused her peace partner of providing a continued support to the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in a ploy to disrupt the conduct of an independence vote in Southern Sudan.

In a press briefing yesterday at the SPLM Southern Sector secretariat, the Acting Deputy Secretary General for Southern sector, Antipas Nyok Kucha, said the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) arm the rebels, to later create instability in the south.

“They are armed wings, armed militia, being funded by the NCP to sabotage the system in the south”, Antipas Nyok told reporters.

“Don’t think LRA is a rebel army fighting against the Ugandan government but it is a support militia backing the SAF to destabilize people in the south”.

He said these destructive plans are responsible for the quest of Southerners for an independent nation in an internationally supervised self determination referendum January next year.

“If you are suffering from cancer and the cancer is threatening to finish up your body, what do you do?” Nyok wandered. “You have to go to the doctor so that the arm is cut away”, he said, implying that the doctor is the referendum.

In a related development, the SPLM rejected the NCP’s proposal of dual citizenship for the people of Abyei. “I am telling our people, these are provocative statements”, he said. “It is the constitution to set citizenship of the people and not any individual to get and propose dual citizenship”, he stressed. There is no home that can be co-owned but it must have its owner, he added.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Uganda, DRCongo seek new ways to fight insurgents - Nun offers refuge in Sudan - Religious leaders call on UN - LRA wants peace talks resumed

BEFORE glancing through the following round-up of 21 news reports regarding the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), please click here (and wait for short advert to end) to view an important video report at TIME.com by Ed Robbins reporting from Western Equatoria, south Sudan. The report, entitled "NUN OFFERS REFUGE FROM VIOLENCE IN SUDAN", features Sister Giovanna, mother superior at a Catholic mission in Ezo, South Sudan, who provides refuge for villagers fleeing vicious attacks by soldiers of the LRA.

I say, compassion is the greatest healer. Upon viewing the video I wanted to reach out my hands and shake Sister Giovanna's hand and give her a big hug for being so compassionate and courageous in speaking out and asking important questions. I think people who are abducted and enslaved by the LRA should be viewed as victims and prisoners of war in urgent need of rescuing and a care plan that includes treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I am still thinking of poor Moses, wondering who is helping him deal with his nightmares.
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Uganda, DRCongo seek new ways to fight insurgents
From AFP
Sunday, 19 September 2010
(KAMPALA) - Defence leaders from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are meeting Sunday in Kampala to discuss new ways to combat rebel groups in the region, notably the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"We will discuss security matters, especially border insurgency by negative forces, the Lord's Resistance Army and others," Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told AFP.

"We expect this meeting to come up with comprehensive measures to deal with negative forces to ensure there is peace in the region, and to see that there is smooth movement of goods and services between the two countries," he added. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the guerrillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DR Congo, as well as southern Sudan and the Central African Republic, and their insurgency has been marked by appalling violence against civilians.
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Uganda, Congo discuss new plot against LRA
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug) by Henry Mukasa
Sunday, 19 September, 2010
UGANDA and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have vowed to work together to annihilate the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels who are threatening the security of the two countries.

Defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga and DRC’s defence and veterans’ minister Charles Mwando made the declaration after a meeting in Munyonyo on Saturday.

The ministers met under the Ngurdoto agreement signed by President Yoweri Museveni and his counterpart, Joseph Kabila in Tanzania on September 8, 2007. The ministers will meet again in November.

According to a statement, the ministers reviewed the security situation along the border and commended each other for the joint operations against the LRA rebels in Congo.

They also thanked each other for the on-going operations against the Alliance Defence Forces (ADF) leaders in Eastern DRC.

“In this respect, they agreed to do everything possible to neutralise Joseph Kony, his group, and the ADF rebels,” the statement said.

Kony is the leader of the LRA rebels, who fought an atrocious war in northern Uganda, maiming, looting property, raping and abducting people.

Kiyonga stated that Uganda was ready to support efforts against lawless Ugandans destabilising peace and security in the region.

Mwando thanked the Ugandan government for arresting rebels like Gen. Gadi Ngabo. Ngabo, the leader of the Patriotic Front in Congo, had declared war on the government of Joseph Kabila, claiming it had failed to keep its promises.

Uganda offered training space at its military academies to DRC forces.

Yesterday, Mwando visited the Kimaka Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja. He was briefed on the history, objectives, course modules and administrative structure of the college.
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Bishops tell US leaders military option won't work against rebels
From Sunday Monitor (www.monitor.co.ug) by Mark Kirumira, Washington
Friday, 17 September 2010 at 06:45
Two Ugandan bishops have told US officials that regional dialogue with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels would work better than a military option against it.

"The issue is no longer the LRA and Uganda," Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu told Catholic News Service in Washington on Wednesday. "The issue now is regional."

Archbishop Odama has headed the Gulu Archdiocese in northern Uganda since 1999 and, during that time, has worked to end hostilities between the UPDF and the LRA.

He travelled to Washington with Anglican Bishop MacLeord Baker Ochola II, retired bishop of Kitgum.

The bishops recently said they do not oppose the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which US President Barack Obama signed into law in May, but were urging US officials to end the use of force in dealing with the LRA.

The cited numerous occasions on which force did not work against the rebel group.
Efforts by the government to make peace with the rebels, on four times, through dialogue have yielded nothing with LRA leader Joseph Kony refusing to sign the peace agreement --- the last being in 2007.

The break in the talks forced the UPDF to launch an operation christened Lightening Thunder on the rebels’ bases in DR Congo.

But an LRA rebels’ delegation has reportedly written to the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon appealing for the resumption of the talks with the government.

The bishops met with State Department officials, who have until November to develop a strategy for disarming the LRA and they also met with congressional leaders.

"We are afraid," Archbishop Odama said.

"Let us bring [their] leaders together -- the new stakeholders."

Bishop Ochola said those opposed to peace -- those who advocate continued fighting -- should also be invited to the dialogue. He said the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative leaders have offered to mediate multiple times.

Since late 2008, the LRA have killed more than 2,500 civilians in southern Sudan. About 90,000 Sudanese in Western Equatoria province have been displaced from their homes, and 25,000 refugees from Congo and Central African Republic have sought refuge in the province.

Archbishop Odama and Bishop Ochola said capturing or killing Kony would not necessarily end the conflict, because the situation is so complex and includes splinter groups and tribal conflicts.

Kony and his bandits have shifted their base from northern Uganda and now operate in southern Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic.
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Army dismisses rebel call for fresh talks
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug)
Friday, 17 September, 2010
THE army says calls by the Lords Resistance Army rebels to the UN to initiate fresh peace talks with the government is diversionary and intended to buy time.

UPDF 4th Division Intelligence Officer, Major Victor Opira says peace talks between the government and the LRA were concluded and what is remaining is for the LRA leader, Joseph Kony to sign the final peace agreement document.

He says government is aware that the LRA is not serious and has always wanted to seek for survival means.

Opira also revealed that the strength and capacity of the LRA have greatly been reduced and weakened in the recent operations against the LRA.
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South Sudan army calls for quick provision of security information
From Sudan Tribune (www.sudantribune.com) by Ngor Arol Garang
Friday, 17 September 2010
September 16, 2010 (MALAKAL) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) on Thursday called for the quick and timely provision of security information, saying that delays in passing on sensitive information to relevent authorities in the region, such as that relating to security, results in delays in crucial intervention.



Photo: SPLA spokesperson Gen Kuol Deim Kuol (Photo Ajang Monychol)

Kuol Deim Kuol, official spokesman of the SPLA told Sudan Tribune from Juba that the latest Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack in western Equatoria, occurred just eight miles away from Yambio, capital of the state and the information about their presence was not passed onto the SPLA forces in the area early enough.

The LRA is a northern Ugandan rebel group with no coherent demands which continues to commit atrocities across the region. At its centre is a messianic cult around its leader, the International Criminal Court charged, Josephy Kony.

“It was made known to our forces after the emergence of reports that civilians have sighted them moving about in the area before the attack,” said Kuol. He explained that the provision of information is important as it helps in preparation and proper positioning of armed forces, in order to provide quick and timely intervention.

“You see, in Western Bahr el Ghazal, LRA has limited activities because once elements associated with it are sighted by the civilians; they give information very fast to our forces. This is what is required. Cooperation in coordination and provision of security is very important,” he added.

Kuol pointed out that the LRA is active in the area, especially in the two counties of Nzara and Yambio because of lack coordination and information sharing. “We have deployed enough manpower but this is not what counts. What counts is not the number of security forces but provision of information on time and logistics. There is need for cooperation in this area,” he added.

Kuol also expressed concern over the presence of the LRA off southern soil: “The LRA operates from the Democratic Republic of Congo and our forces have no mandate to enter DRC territory. This is one. The other issue is logistics for the movement of our forces. The last and most important of all is provision of information on time. Intelligence play central role and this is what counts.”

He made an appeal following a report urging the ministry of SPLA and veteran affairs by the regional parliament to increase deployment of the armed forces in Western Equatoria State.

On Wednesday Aleu Ayieny Aleu, chair of the special committee for security and public order responded to a motion previously raised by Bernado K. Martin, a member of parliament, on increased activities and operation of LRA in the area.

The security and public order report was deliberated by undersecretary of the ministry of SPLA and veteran affairs, Bior Ajang and Obote Mamur on behalf of the SPLA chief of general staff, reulsting in eight recommendations.

The committee noted that the inaccessibility of roads was leading to the formation of LRA hideouts. That it is operating in Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Darfur in Sudan. Lack of coordination and sharing of information on operation and activities of the LRA at the border areas was observed.

The comittee report also indicated that the LRA has established close relationships with unlawful groups, citing cattle raiders and nomads like Ombororo. TIt also suggested that the LRA is receiving logistical and military support from Khartoum’s Sudanese Armed Forces through its liaison office in South Darfur.

It accused the ruling National Congress Party of colloding with the LRA to destabilize the region by undermining the implementation of the CPA in regard to the preperations for the upcoming referendum.

To maintain peace in the region, the parliament recommended that the SPLA end the armed incursion of the LRA and Ombororo nomads wandering about in the region and called on the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to make every effort to support operations of the armed forces, particularly in combating the LRA.

The parliament further urged the ministry of SPLA and veteran affairs to increase the number of the armed forces in the area, to prevent flow of illegal arms and movement, as well as to monitor allegations of the smuggling of arms.

It called for the construction of security roads in order to facilitate the quick movement of the military against illegal armed groups in the region, in particular the LRA.

The regional parliament finally called on the SPLM controlled GoSS to lead regional efforts to combat rebels, in collaboration with the Khartoum’s Government of National Unity, Uganda, Democratic of Congo and Central Africa Republic and in the hope of mediating peace with the LRA. (ST)
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The Invisible Children Organization Makes a Stop at South Walton High School
From www.wjhg.com
Thursday, 16 September 2010
These young members of the Invisible Children's Organization know that no child should live in fear of being abducted, mutilated, or killed. Activists groups are trying to shed light on the destruction caused by the longest running war in Africa's history ...
Reporter: Meagan O'Halloran
Email Address: meagan.ohalloran@wjhg.com
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Sudan: Stop the suffering - Bishop’s international call for fresh approach to LRA threat
From Aid to the Church in Need (members4.boardhost.com)
Press release by John Pontifex
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
CHURCH and civic representatives from four key African countries have signed a declaration appealing for international action to stop guerrilla forces terrorising the region.

About 30 community leaders made up of senior clergy and government representatives put their signature to a communiqué calling on national and international leaders to do more to prevent attacks by the Lords Resistance Army in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

The declaration calls on the countries’ governments to work together to quell the LRA threat, demanding that further pressure on the four nations be applied by the EU, the UK, the USA and the UN.

Further articles outlined in the document include an appeal for more humanitarian support to help refugees and displaced people and there is a plea for a resumption of peace talks to bring the LRA threat to an end.



Photo: Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, who organised the conference, stressed the continuing threat posed by the LRA.

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday, 14th September) at the end of the four-day meeting, Bishop Hiiboro underlined the need for international pressure to step up security in the region.

He told ACN: “We have been forgotten by our own government, forgotten by the international community and this means the LRA think they can do anything they like.

“Think of the number of people who have fled their homes, the number of people who have lost their lives and the number of people left as orphans.

“The whole state [of Western Equatoria] is living in panic – not just in South Sudan but in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It is just too much.”

Bishop Hiiboro said a reminder of the LRA threat came just days before the conference got underway last week when eight people were hacked to death by machetes.

A further 14 were badly wounded, some seriously, during the attack which took place in Yambio, the regional capital of Western Equatoria State where the bishop is based and where the conference was held.

Stressing the gruesome violence typical of LRA attacks, Bishop Hiiboro said: “The impact of the LRA is terrible. There are huge numbers of refugees and displaced people trying to escape attack.

“They destroy property, leave children as orphans and, with so many leaving, there are no schools or social services.”

But, underlining the limitations of a military response to the LRA threat, he said: “We have seen what happens by following the military way.

“People continue to suffer and die. We want to say that we need another option – an option for peaceful dialogue.”

A year ago, the remains of six people were discovered nailed to a tree close to Yambio in an atrocity that was likened to a crucifixion scene. Again the LRA was implicated.

Amid widespread reports pointing to LRA collusion with Sudan President Omar al Bashir’s Islamist regime in the capital, Khartoum, Bishop Hiiboro said it was unclear who was backing the insurgents.

He added: “There are people who give them weapons, food and enable them to have telephone communications.

“It is difficult to say who helps them. It is obvious that they receive significant support because they are so very well equipped.”

The LRA issue is expected to have a major bearing on the outcome of the long-awaited referendum on the possible cessation of South Sudan, due in January.

At a time of continuing fear of attacks, reports have shown that voters are likely to be swayed by the government – be it the semi-autonomous administration in the south or the Khartoum-based government of national unity – best placed to bring the LRA threat to an end.
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Ugandan bishops tell US leaders military option won't work against rebels
From Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com) by Barb Fraze
Wednesday, 15 September 2010



Photo: Ugandan Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu gestures during an interview with Catholic News Service. Looking on is retired Ugandan Anglican Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
WASHINGTON (CNS) - Two Ugandan bishops -- one Catholic and one Anglican -- traveled across Africa and the Atlantic to tell U.S. officials that regional dialogue with the Lord's Resistance Army would work better than a military option against it.

"The issue is no longer the LRA and Uganda," said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu. "The issue now is regional."

Archbishop Odama has headed the Gulu Archdiocese in northern Uganda since 1999 and, during that time, has worked to end hostilities between the Ugandan military and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, known for its brutality and especially for kidnapping children to use as soldiers and sex slaves. The LRA, once based in northern Uganda, has spread its operations to Southern Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic.

The archbishop is president of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an interfaith organization formed in the late 1990s to respond to the violence in northern Uganda, where the Acholi ethnic group is based. He traveled to Washington with one of the founding members of the organization, Anglican Bishop MacLeord Baker Ochola II, retired bishop of Kitgum.

Both men told Catholic News Service in mid-September that they do not oppose the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in May, but were urging U.S. officials to end the use of force in dealing with the LRA. The cited numerous occasions on which force did not work against the rebel group.

The bishops met with State Department officials, who have until November to develop a strategy for disarming the LRA. They also met with congressional leaders.

"We are afraid," Archbishop Odama told CNS. He said the LRA currently is involved in a conflict to destabilize Uganda's northern neighbor, Southern Sudan, which is scheduled to vote in January on whether to secede from Sudan.

Congo and the Central African Republic, two countries that border Southern Sudan, also have an interest in its stability, the archbishop said.

"Let us bring (their) leaders together -- the new stakeholders," he said. "We say: peaceful approach."

Bishop Ochola, whose daughter committed suicide in 1987 after being brutally attacked by the LRA, said those opposed to peace -- those who advocate continued fighting -- should also be invited to the dialogue.

He said the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative leaders have offered to mediate multiple times. In 2008, rebel leaders had begun negotiations when a Ugandan military offensive drove them into neighboring countries.

In early September, religious leaders from areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army met in Southern Sudan to outline a path to peace. In a statement, the leaders said LRA atrocities gave "no sign whatsoever of being on the decrease."

The leaders said that in Southern Sudan, the LRA was attacking urban centers with "massive abductions, displacements and killings." They said they feared "enemies of peace" would use the LRA to prevent the secession referendum.

Since late 2008, the LRA has killed more than 2,500 civilians in Southern Sudan. About 90,000 Sudanese in Western Equatoria province have been displaced from their homes, and 25,000 refugees from Congo and Central African Republic have sought refuge in the province.

Archbishop Odama and Bishop Ochola said capturing or killing LRA leader Joseph Kony would not necessarily end the conflict, because the situation is so complex and includes splinter groups and tribal conflicts. They said adding to the complexity of the situation was that most LRA soldiers were kidnapped and are serving involuntarily.
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Response to Lord's Resistance Army Is "Haphazard"
From Rome's Zenit News (www.zenit.org)
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
YAMBIO, Sudan, SEPT. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Religious and civic leaders from four nations are calling for negotiation and better coordination of international efforts to bring an end to two plus decades of terror caused by the Lord's Resistance Army.

Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, in southern Sudan, organized a four-day meeting last week, which brought together some 60 representatives including delegations from Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Muslims and non-Catholic Christians were also present.

The 46-year-old bishop leads one of the dioceses most hard-hit by the Lord's Resistance Army. The Sudan Tribune reported that at least seven of his parishes have been badly attacked by the rebel group, which is known for brutality.

Bishop Hiiboro spoke Tuesday with Aid to the Church in Need about a reminder of the LRA threat when eight people were hacked to death by machetes in Yambio just days before the religious leaders' conference got under way in that city. Another 14 were badly wounded.

"The impact of the LRA is terrible," he said. "There are huge numbers of refugees and displaced people trying to escape attack.

“They destroy property, leave children as orphans and, with so many leaving, there are no schools or social services.”

Forgotten

The bishop, who has led the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio for just over two years, contended that "[w]e have been forgotten by our own government, forgotten by the international community and this means the LRA think they can do anything they like."

“Think of the number of people who have fled their homes, the number of people who have lost their lives and the number of people left as orphans," he said. “The whole state [of Western Equatoria] is living in panic -- not just in South Sudan but in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It is just too much.”

Though Bishop Hiiboro said it is not clear who backs the army, it is clear that they are well-sponsored.

"There are people who give them weapons, food and enable them to have telephone communications," the bishop explained. "It is difficult to say who helps them. It is obvious that they receive significant support because they are so very well equipped."

Open door

A final statement with 30 signatories from the conference was released Sept. 10. The religious leaders cautioned against military "solutions," noting the dire effects of past efforts.

“The international community has so far failed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the LRA as a regional threat, instead addressing the crisis in a piecemeal and haphazard way in the four different countries,” the report stated.

It called for collaboration from the governments of the four nations terrorized by the LRA, and urged greater international pressure from the European Union, the United States and the United Nations.

Bishop Hiiboro told the Fides agency that he is advocating a political solution, which he just recommended in a meeting with the defense minister of Uganda.

"The LRA leader, [Joseph] Kony, has sent me a letter which was delivered to various other regional and international figures -- including the U.N. secretary-general -- saying that he is willing to enter into peace talks once more," the bishop noted. “Let's not close the door on negotiations."
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Bassole’ to Arrive Khartoum End Month for Advancing Government/Movements Talks From Sudan Vision Daily.com - Wednesday, September 15 @ 00:15:00 UTC by Staff Writer
...Government Spokesman Omer Adam Rahma, affirmed government's preparedness for negotiations, brushing aside the movement's accusations of government's attacks on its forces in cooperation with the LRA, adding that LRA was non existent in Darfur. He said, " Nobody can believe in the existence of the LRA troops there." ...
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LRA wants peace talks resumed
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug) by Henry Mukasa
Monday, 13 September, 2010
THE residual LRA rebels’ delegation to the stalled Juba peace talks has written to the secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, appealing for the resumption of negotiations with the Government.

In a September 6 letter, the LRA supporters asked the UN boss to take urgent steps to bring the peace talks back on track.

“The leadership of the LRA peace team makes an appeal to the UN secretary general for urgent action to revisit and once again attend to the peace question in Uganda so as to assist in reviving the stalled ‘Northern Uganda peace process,” a letter signed by Justine Labeja, the acting leader of the rebels peace team, stated.

The Government accused the LRA rebels of not being committed to the peace talks.

The Juba peace talks were the fourth time the Government had attempted to end the brutal northern Uganda war through peaceful means. In all attempts, the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, refused to sign the final peace agreement.

The LRA have fought an atrocious war in the north for nearly two decades, killing, maiming and raping people, and looting and torching homesteads.

During the Juba peace talks, the rebels said they were fighting marginalisation by the Government.

After the collapse of the peace talks in January 2007, the Government launched Operation Lightening Thunder on the LRA bases in the DR Congo. Several rebels were killed, captured or surrendered.

However, the rebel collaborators say the military offensive only spread war to the DRC, southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.

LRA top commanders were indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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Top LRA commander moves to southern Sudan
From Bikyamasr.com
Monday, 13 September 2010
Testimony from former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters who were recently captured near Yambio in Sudan’s Western Equatoria state indicates that a notorious LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, recently crossed into Sudan from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ongwen, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2005, is part of the LRA’s top leadership, second or third in command after leader Joseph Kony. BM
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Religious leaders call on UN to curb LRA activities
From Radio Miraya.org
Sunday, 12 September 2010 at 10:13


A rare 3-day meeting of about thirty religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, and Uganda has criticized the "lack of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy" to tackle the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

This came after the leaders met in Yambio town of the Western Equatoria State. The recommendations of the conference called on the UN to intervene and be deployed as quickly as possible to the region in order to halt the LRA activities.
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Common front against Ugandan rebels urged
From Gulf Times.com
Sunday, 12 September 2010 at 12:14 AM Doha Time
(AFP/Khartoum) Co-ordinated action must be taken to end the long-running brutal campaign by the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, leaders from the four countries affected said yesterday.

A rare three-day meeting of 30 religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), south Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda criticised the “lack of a co-ordinated and comprehensive strategy” to tackle the rebels.

“The LRA is committing atrocities across very remote areas of already unstable nations,” read a joint statement following the meeting in the southern Sudanese town of Yambio, state capital of the badly affected Western Equatoria region.

Better co-ordination is needed, they warned, adding that “LRA atrocities give no sign whatsoever of being on the decrease.”

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the guerrillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DRC, south Sudan and CAR.

“DRC, Sudan and CAR all have internal conflicts that prevent them from sufficiently allocating their forces in a fight against the rebel group,” it added, calling on all national armies to work to boost troop deployment in affected areas.

“The international community has so far failed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the LRA as a regional threat, instead addressing the crisis in a piecemeal and haphazard way in the four different countries,” it added.

The signatories demanded that UN peacekeepers be given a “greater capacity to deploy quickly” in response to attacks.

However, the leaders praised the Washington administration for passing a law in May, which commits it to develop a strategy by the end of November to end the rebel campaign of carnage.

The LRA’s acts of startling brutality—including murder, rape, and the forced conscription of children—have forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes in south Sudan alone since January, the UN says.

Many thousands more have been massacred, abducted or forced from their homes in CAR and DRC by the rebels, whose chiefs are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The leaders yesterday also called for clarification of the Ugandan army’s role, which has led the hunt for LRA leaders across Sudan, DRC and CAR, since it launched a botched offensive following the collapse of peace talks.

The December 2008 Ugandan-led attacks smashed the rebels’ jungle hideouts in northeast DRC, but analysts suggest the LRA was tipped off and most fighters escaped beforehand, launching reprisal raids across a wide area as they fled.
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Uganda's LRA rebels 'must face African joint action'
From AFP by Peter Martell
Saturday, 11 September 2010 at 7:57 am ET
(KHARTOUM) - Coordinated action must be taken to end the long-running brutal campaign by the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, leaders from the four countries affected said on Saturday.

A rare three-day meeting of 30 religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), south Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda criticised the "lack of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy" to tackle the rebels.

"The LRA is committing atrocities across very remote areas of already unstable nations," read a joint statement following the meeting in the southern Sudanese town of Yambio, state capital of the badly affected Western Equatoria region.

Better coordination is needed, they warned, adding that "LRA atrocities give no sign whatsoever of being on the decrease."

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the guerrillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DRC, south Sudan and CAR.

"DRC, Sudan and CAR all have internal conflicts that prevent them from sufficiently allocating their forces in a fight against the rebel group," it added, calling on all national armies to work to boost troop deployment in affected areas.

"The international community has so far failed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the LRA as a regional threat, instead addressing the crisis in a piecemeal and haphazard way in the four different countries," it added.

The signatories demanded that UN peacekeepers be given a "greater capacity to deploy quickly" in response to attacks.

However, the leaders praised the Washington administration for passing a law in May, which commits it to develop a strategy by the end of November to end the rebel campaign of carnage.

The LRA's acts of startling brutality -- including murder, rape, and the forced conscription of children -- have forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes in south Sudan alone since January, the United Nations says.

Many thousands more have been massacred, abducted or forced from their homes in CAR and DRC by the rebels, whose chiefs are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The leaders on Saturday also called for clarification of the Ugandan army's role, which has led the hunt for LRA leaders across Sudan, DRC and CAR, since it launched a botched offensive following the collapse of peace talks.

The December 2008 Ugandan-led attacks smashed the rebels' jungle hideouts in northeast DRC, but analysts suggest the LRA was tipped off and most fighters escaped beforehand, launching reprisal raids across a wide area as they fled.

The religious leaders on Saturday insisted that the "preferred sustainable solution is a negotiated settlement" of the LRA crisis "after decades of failed military interventions."

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Dominic Ongwen -- the LRA's second or third in command -- has moved from DRC back to south Sudan, according to testimonies of former fighters collected by the Washington-based Enough pressure group.

Ongwen's reported move is "worrying", it said, with south Sudan approaching a historic vote due in January on its potential full independence.

"Sudan is preparing for a very important referendum early next year, and the LRA has a proven record of destabilising entire regions with few soldiers," said the Enough report, released on Wednesday.
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Sudan: North guilty of using LRA rebels to destabilize south?
LRA says it wants a ceasefire with Sudan, Uganda and CAR
From Afrik News.com
Friday, 10 September 2010 by Konye Obaji Ori, Patrick K. Johnsson
Northern Sudan has been accused of employing rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to unsettle southern Sudan and the Darfur region ahead of the south’s independence referendum scheduled for January 9, 2011. But an official from the LRA, which has embarked on a mass recruitment, has debunked the claims and suggested that they are rather seeking a peace deal with the region.
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Sudan's Darfur rebels say attacked by Ugandan LRA
From Reuters
Friday, 10 September 2010 at 5:44am GMT
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Darfur rebel group said on Thursday it was attacked by Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army guerrillas in Sudan's west.

"A group of LRA attacked our forces in Dafak in South Darfur yesterday," Haydar Galucuma Ateem, vice president of the Darfur rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), told Reuters from Qatar-based peace talks.

South Sudan, which fought decades of civil war against the north, accuses the northern government of arming the LRA to destabilise the semi-autonomous region ahead of a January 9, 2011 referendum which most believe will result in a vote for independence.

Known for their abduction of child soldiers and extreme brutality, the LRA sought refuge in neighbouring south Sudan during the civil war.

Kampala accused Sudan's central government in Khartoum of providing support to the LRA, a charge Khartoum denies.

After a 2005 north-south peace deal, which did not include a separate conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, LRA rebels went on the run and south Sudan said some had moved towards Darfur to receive support from Khartoum there.

South Sudan's government says it cut off Khartoum's supply lines to the LRA after the 2005 accord so the Ugandan rebels moved north to Khartoum-controlled territory in Darfur to get resupplied.

Ateem said two small reconnaissance groups of about 20 young LRA rebels carrying light arms shot and killed one LJM soldier before retreating into dense forest in remote South Darfur.

"Their language was one of the ways we knew they were LRA," he said, adding the Ugandan guerrillas in the past year had often crossed the remote and porous border between South Darfur and the Central African Republic.

"They probably have a relationship with the government of Sudan," Ateem said. "Many of the young people in the area say they are arming the LRA -- the LRA first entered South Darfur about a year ago."

The International Criminal Court issued its first arrest warrants for LRA commanders, whose tactics include mutilating their victims by cutting off their lips and ears.

Groups of LRA soldiers also frequently attack south Sudanese villages near the border with the lawless Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the United Nations and south Sudan government.
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LRA Denies Attack on Sudan-Based Rebels
Voice of America News (voanews.com) by Peter Clottey
Thursday, 09 September 2010
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Britain arrests top LRA negotiator Willy Oryem alias Achila
From Uganda Watch.blogspot.com
Thursday, 09 September 2010
A top Kampala official said Mr Oryem alias Achila, in detention at Harmmondsworth Removal Centre since his arrest upon landing at Heathrow Airport in England on 28 August 2010, has never been “classified as a terrorist”. ...
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LRA massacre victims call for help
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug) by Chris Ocowun
Wednesday, 08 September, 2010


Survivors of the 1995 Atyak massacre repairing the monument built for the 250 people who were killed by the LRA

In April 1995, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels led by Vincent Otti attacked Atyak township in the morning and massacred more than 250 civilians, leaving behind about 80 survivors and 100 orphans.

The survivors have appealed to the President to fund the building of a big multipurpose hall and library in Atyak township in memory of the deceased.

They also requested the Government and other development partners to build a bigger monument with a recreation centre across Ayugi River where the bloodbath occurred.

Jacob Nokrac, the chairman of the Atyak Survivors’ Association, on Tuesday observed that the Government helped the injured and bereaved families of the July 11 bomb blasts in Kampala.

“We appeal to the Government to provide us with livestock for income generation and at least sh5m as a revolving fund for the survivors,” he said.

Nokrac also called for grinding mills to process their produce. He said some survivors had bomb fragments in their bodies and needed to be operated upon.

Nokrac disclosed that the survivors had formed a saving and loan association where each member saves between sh1,000-5,000 every week. He said the orphans needed school fees.

Betty Acan, 31, a survivor, said she could not continue with education because her brother who used to pay her school fees was killed in the massacre.

The Atyak sub-county chairman, John Bosco Ocan, called on the Government to take over the running of Lwani Memorial Community Secondary School which was built by the community in memory of those massacred by the rebels.
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Ex LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo to face trial in Uganda's War Crimes Court
From Uganda Watch.blogspot.com
Sunday, 08 August 2010
The New Vision, Uganda, Monday, 06 September 2010: A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, has been charged and committed to the War Crimes Court to face trial. Kwoyelo, 39, appeared before Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate Vincent Mugabo, who did not allow him to plead to the charges. He becomes the first suspect to be charged with offences relating to war crimes.

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African Union to protest UN report linking Rwanda troops to genocide in DR Congo

THE African Union is tipped to use the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly to force amendments on the report that accuses Rwanda of alleged Genocide in DR Congo.

The session that gets under way on Monday in New York has been rocked by the leaking of the report linking Rwanda troops to genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Full story below.

African Union to protest UN “Genocide” report in New York
Report from Rwanda News Agency by RNA Reporter
Sunday, 19 September 2010; 12:44:
(Kigali) - The African Union is tipped to use the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly to force amendments on the report that accuses Rwanda of alleged Genocide in DR Congo.

The session that gets under way on Monday in New York has been rocked by the leaking of the report linking Rwanda troops to genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN was left with egg on its face after the contents of the 600-page draft report was leaked, prompting the secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to fly to Rwanda to ease tensions.

Former and current diplomats told the Kenyan newspaper ‘Sunday Nation’ that the African Union will seek changes to the document as a show of solidarity with Rwanda which has become a major player on the continent.

Another former ambassador and now university don, Prof Frank Matanga, says the leak has exposed the UN and left it with no option but to cause the amendments as demanded by Rwanda.

The recognition of Rwanda’s growing importance in African affairs, Prof Kikaya added, should provide a good starting point to mobilise the AU block to demand tighter structures to forestall any future leaks.

“The burden is on Rwanda’s diplomatic corps to lobby the African caucus to give its position on this matter,” he told the Kenyan daily.

Rwanda’s growing importance in the continent since the genocide in 1994 can be seen in its peace efforts in the region.

It currently has 3300 peacekeeping force and 86 police serving with a joint UN and African Union force (Unamid) in the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur. It is led by Rwandan Lt Gen Patrick Nyamyumba.

Another 256 troops serve with the UN Mission in Sudan (Unmis), which is supporting the implementation of a peace deal between north and south.

“Rwanda was the first country to send troops to a very treacherous place to monitor implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It therefore pioneered the African-based force,” Prof Kikaya pointed out.

Instead of bashing Rwanda, the UN should be thanking the country for evolving African-based peace keeping in the continent, added Prof Kikaya.

The fact that the report also names Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Burundi, it creates sympathy among other African leaders to fall behind their colleagues, according to diplomats.

President Kagame will also meet with UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon and other top UN officials as part of Rwanda’s offensive against the report due to be released on October 01.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Shocking video of Ugandan terror group Lord's Resistance Army hunting children in Sudan

ONE of the world's most brutal terrorist groups, Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), is on the move from the Congo, terrorising civilians.

The below copied report from TIME.com, Tuesday, 07 September 2010, contains a shocking video entitled "The Lord's Resistance Army Hunts Children in Sudan".

Click here (and wait for end of short advert) to view video and hear Ed Robbins reporting for TIME.com from Western Equatoria State, southern Sudan.

Please replay the video and listen carefully to a message for everyone. The message is from a deeply traumatised Sudanese boy. The boy's name is Moses. Moses was abducted, attacked, hurt all over and stabbed with a bayonet by LRA terrorists. The terrorists forced Moses to kill a young girl. The girl was aged 7 or 8. If he did not kill the girl, they would kill him. The heart wrenching message from Moses says:

"I'M ASKING EVERYONE PLEASE, PRAY TO MAKE IT END"

Replay the video again and imagine yourself as Moses. The flat deadened tone of his voice is haunting. After viewing the report for the first time yesterday and working on it today at Sudan Watch, Uganda Watch and Congo Watch, I can't get Moses out of my mind. His trauma seeped into my bones as I imagined how he must have felt, what his future holds, and how he will think and be haunted for the rest of his life. I find this report deeply distressing and disturbing. I cannot understand why so many people are powerless when it comes to stopping the LRA. How someone like Joseph Kony manages to stay alive is beyond my comprehension. The stresses and strains he has gone through in his lifetime are unimaginable. A living hell, I guess.

See further devastating reports and photos here below.
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Balancing Counterterrorism and Democracy in Uganda
TIME.com - Tuesday, 07 September 2010
By Ioannis Gatsiounis in Kampala, Uganda


Photo: Mourners bury Alice Kyalimpa, a victim of the July 11, 2010, terrorist attacks that tore through a restaurant and rugby club in Uganda's capital Ronald Kabuubi/Reuters. Source: Time.com report September 07, 2010 "Balancing Counterterrorism and Democracy in Uganda". To view the full report, click on the link above or visit TIME.com. If the report has moved, view a copy filed on 08 September 2010 at Uganda Watch, a sister blog of Congo Watch.
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LRA KILL 8 IN YAMBIO, W. EQUATORIA, S. SUDAN -
More Ugandan PDF forces to be deployed




WES Yambio: LRA Raid And Kill 8 citizens
Report from South Sudan Analysis (SOSA) online - Monday, 06 September 2010:
(YAMBIO) – Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have killed 8 people during weekend raids in Southern Sudan’s Western Equatoria state, a local official said.

Around 6 LRA fighters attacked the market village of Rii-Bodo on Saturday, killing 8 civilians, said Lexon Amozai, State Director of Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Western Equatoria State.

The horrifying murders come in the wake of an LRA ambush at a near-by small stream of Nahua.

On Friday the rebels launched a similar assault on the village of Gangura.

“They killed 8 people there, among them two women. There were no soldiers deployed there, so they attacked the civilians,” Mr Amozai said.

A Uganda-led coalition including Congo and South Sudan launched a joint offensive against LRA strongholds in Congo’s isolated Garamba National Park on December 14 after LRA leader Joseph Kony again failed to sign a deal to end his rebellion. However, the operation has failed to arrest Joseph Kony.

In the same weekend related attacks were carried on Sunday at James Diko and Naakiri Bomas under Bangasu payam during a final funeral of one of the LRA Victims.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.

Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, state governor of Western Equatoria state with deeply sorrow and regrets expressed his dissatisfaction for the death of 8 WES citizens of Rii-Bodo on Saturday.

In a press statement, Col Bangasi said that, “it is painful to see such barbaric killings by the notorious LRA fighters on the innocent citizens of western Equatoria more especially as referendum gets around the corner.”

He called upon all the youth to stand up in order to provide security to the state from the marauding LRA and the state Government in collaboration with the UPDF and SPLA.

Security sources say soon the state government “will deploy forces around the payams and Bomas.”

Bakosoro assured the citizens that, “more forces of the Ugandan People Defense (UPDF) forces will be deployed around the most attacked areas of the Bomas.”

He cautioned the forestry department to ensure that “all timber cutters are removed from the forest of the state because it makes no sense for the LRA to be killing people leaving them (timber companies) unharmed hence some might be spices of the LRA.”

Meanwhile the Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies Colonel Wilson Sidigi said that he will ensure that support is given to the villagers’ security.

Sidigi promised that he will organize with the County Commissioners of Yambio and Nzara to encouraged the youth to stand firm as the security of the State is in the hands of every citizen of the state.
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LRA Kill Eight In Yambio
Report from SRS - Sudan Radio Service - Tuesday, 07 September 2010:
(YAMBIO) – About eight people were killed in attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army over the weekend in outskirts of Yambio town.

The Western Equatoria state Minister of Information and Communication, Gibson Bullen Wande, spoke to SRS from Yambio on Tuesday.

[Gibson Bullen Wande]: “The LRA appeared between Gangura and a place called Baite, attacked the village and killed three people, so now we are seeing how we are going to handle it. Then on Saturday in the evening, the LRA appeared about 7 kilometers away from Yambio town in a place called Riibodoo. They came into the house of a chief with his in-laws. All of them were beaten to death and one person was abducted. So the total number of people that we have established to have been killed during the two attacks of last week has now come to eight so far.”

Gibson Bullen Wande was speaking to SRS from Yambio on Tuesday.
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LRA rebels kill eight in South Sudan raid, local official says
Report from Sudan Tribune online - Tuesday, 07 September 2010
By Richard Ruati - excerpt:
(YAMBIO - September 06, 2010) - The Ugandan rebels Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has killed eight people in raids over the weekend in South Sudan’s state of Western Equatoria, a local official has said.

The LRA, which is a sectarian religious and military group from northern Uganda, has a history of committing atrocities in the region.

It began as an Acholi tribe rebel movement seeking to overthrow the Ugandan Government. What it stands for now is a matter of debate but in 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first five arrest warrants for LRA leader, Joseph Kony, his deputy and three of his commanders.

Around six LRA fighters attacked the market village of Rii-Bodo at about 2:00 am (local time) on Saturday, 4 August, and killed civilians, said Lexon Amozai who is the state director of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Western Equatoria State. The murders took place after an LRA ambush at the nearby Nahua stream.

On Friday, the rebels launched a similar assault on the village of Gangura. "They killed eight people there, among them two women. There were no soldiers deployed there, so they attacked the civilians," Amozai said.

A Uganda-led coalition including Congo and South Sudan launched a joint offensive against the LRA strongholds in Congo’s isolated Garamba National Park on December 14, after LRA leader Kony again failed to sign a peace deal. However, the operation has failed to arrest Kony.

On Sunday, August 5, related attacks were carried out in James Diko, Naakiri Bomas and during the funeral of one of the LRA victims in Bangasu. [...]

Security sources say that the state government’s deployment of "forces around the payams [villages] and Bomas,” is imminent.
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"I'M ASKING EVERYONE PLEASE, PRAY TO MAKE IT END"

Gulu victim

Photo: Gulu victim. The LRA use torture to instil fear. Uganda's rebel LRA has become synonymous with torture, abductions and killings. (BBC photo/Sudan Watch archive)

Uganda1

Photo: Two young boy's get treated for severe burn wounds in the Lira hospital in northern Uganda, 23 February 2004, after a massacre believed to be committed by the LRA in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the town that killed at least 200 people. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo/Sudan Watch archive)

Northern Uganda

Photo: Ochola John was deformed by rebels from the LRA. (BBC) Click here to read the victim's heartbreaking testimony published at BBC News online on 29 June 2006. If the report has moved, click here to read a copy filed on 30 June 2006 at Uganda Watch, a sister site of this blog Sudan Watch.



Photo: Leader of the LRA peace delegation Martin Ojul, left, is welcomed back home at Koch Goma in Amuru. (AP Photo) Source: Report from TIME.com - Saturday, 10 November 2007, by Alexis Okeowo in Gulu. Excerpt:
Sixteen years ago, Irene Abonyo was held down to the ground and her lips and ears viciously sliced off by rebels in northern Uganda. But 70-year old Abonyo is in a forgiving mood. She attended a steamy, overcrowded town-hall meeting to see, on better terms this time, one of the world's most terrifying rebel groups, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). After a dialogue, she went over to shake the hand of a former LRA fighter. He held her hand, but refused to have his picture taken with the disfigured woman. "I will still forgive," Abonyo explains. "They are embarrassed of what they have done." Full story by Alexis Okeowo (Gulu, N. Uganda) published at TIME.com on Saturday, 10 November 2007: "Forgiving the Lord's Resistance Army"
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"I'M ASKING EVERYONE PLEASE, PRAY TO MAKE IT END"

Last month, Human Rights Watch said the LRA had killed more than 250 people in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the previous year and a half. It said nearly 700 others were kidnapped and forced to be either soldiers or sex slaves. Full story at Voice of America News (VOA) online, Tuesday, 07 September 2010: "LRA Kills 8 in Southern Sudan".



Photo: Southern Sudanese wait for food, shelter, security and medicine at the village of Nzara, along Sudan's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, on 18 August 2010. Thousands have fled their nearby villages since a recent series of attacks by guerrilla fighters believed to be from the Lord's Resistance Army. (Peter Martell/AFP/Getty Images) Full story by Alan Boswell (Nzara, South Sudan) published at TIME.com on Tuesday, 31 August 2010: "The Ruthless Guerrilla Movement That Won't Die".
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Balancing Counterterrorism and Democracy in Uganda
Report from TIME.com
By Ioannis Gatsiounis in Kampala, Uganda
Tuesday, 07 September 2010. Full copy:
U.S. President Barack Obama took office promising to make good governance the cornerstone of his African policy, and Uganda came to typify the shift in priorities. Repeated attempts by President Yoweri Museveni to meet with Obama were denied, apparently in response to Uganda's sluggish pace of political reform ahead of presidential elections in February. President Obama also directly challenged Museveni to lift his support for a draconian bill persecuting gays.

But just as the 9/11 attacks drew the U.S. closer to autocratic Arab regimes whose security services were needed to help fight al-Qaeda, so have the July 11 bombings of two Kampala nightspots by the Somalia-based al-Shabab militant group reminded the Obama Administration of Uganda's importance in the battle against extremism in the Horn of Africa. And that strategic interdependency challenges the U.S. democracy agenda. (See a video of the Lord's Resistance Army hunting children in Sudan.)

"Washington is now forced to do a balancing act," says Livingstone Sweanyana, executive director at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative in Kampala. "If the U.S. is going to work with Museveni on al-Shabab, the U.S. can't afford to see or treat him as an unfriendly force."

U.S. officials insist that democratic reform still figures at the top of Washington's agenda in Uganda. But as Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) has used the July 11 terror attacks as a pretext to shrink the political space, Washington's critique hasn't kept pace. Three days after the bombings, parliament passed a bill enabling phone-tapping. Weeks later, nationwide demonstrations demanding an independent election commission were violently suppressed on grounds that they could be exploited by terrorists. And the media have since been banned from commenting on the twin bombings. (Can Uganda forgive the Lord's Resistance Army?)

Following the crackdown on protests calling for an election commission, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson did say that security concerns were no justification for squelching dissent. Curiously, however, the previous day he told a reporter on the sidelines of an African Union (A.U.) summit in Kampala that Museveni had been "elected openly and transparently in free and fair elections," contradicting a 2006 State Department assessment that the polls had been "marred by serious irregularities." (See pictures of Uganda.)

The about-face may be driven by growing desperation. At the same A.U. summit, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that "ending the threat of al-Shabab to the world will take more than just law enforcement" and that Washington was therefore going to work closely "to support the African Union's [military] mission in Somalia [AMISOM]." Washington is looking to boost current troop levels from 8,000 — most of them from Burundi and Uganda — to 20,000. The problem is that few member states other than Uganda have volunteered to step up. Museveni, a former rebel leader, is reportedly prepared to mobilize that many troops on his own and has been leading calls to switch AMISOM's mandate from peacekeeping to peace enforcement.

"The U.S. is depending on Uganda to play a role in Somalia to rein in extremist forces," says James Tumusiime, managing editor of the opposition-leaning Observer weekly. "And in light of the attacks, the U.S. is probably beginning to think they're better off with a stable, functioning style of leadership in Uganda — someone who's not necessarily a democrat but a guy in control — rather than support change for democracy's sake."

U.S. diplomats in Kampala say much of their democracy-promotion work is low-key. One example is their success in persuading Uganda to put voter-registration lists online to allow the validation of voter identities. USAID invested around $2 million on democracy and governance programs last year, and that figure is expected to hit $10 million this year. Officials argue that security and democracy are mutually reinforcing.

But support for the key opposition demand of an independent election commission appears to be waning, says Wafula Oguttu, spokesperson for the leading opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Recalling Washington's silence after the recent suppression of demonstrations — in which 80 people were arrested and some claimed to have been tortured — Oguttu says, "The U.S. likely would have spoken out against that prior to al-Shabab." Now the opposition is anxiously awaiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's quarterly report on Uganda, due late this month, after Congress ordered the State Department to tightly monitor Uganda's election process. "A lot of bad things have happened since May," says Oguttu, and he expects the report to reflect that fact.

The last such report, issued in May, irritated NRM leaders, but prompted no constructive action. Indeed the party's primary polls on Monday were marred by confusion and allegations of ballot-stuffing. Opposition groups hope that Washington will use its leverage as one of Uganda's leading aid donors to press for change. But they fear the U.S. lacks the resolve to press the issue, leaving Uganda's election process heavily skewed toward the ruling party.

Challenges to the legitimacy of the electoral process raise the danger of large-scale political violence, analysts warn. Last September, riots in Kampala left 17 people dead after the king of Buganda kingdom was prevented by Museveni from visiting a nearby district. (Comment on this story.)

"We have shown restraint so far," says the FDC's Oguttu. But if the mechanisms for free and fair elections fail to materialize, he says, "we're going to have a little bit of trouble." He predicts the youth will grow more vocal and could target the destruction of election-commission offices. Meanwhile, the opposition is mulling the option of boycotting February's elections. Whatever the case may be, he says, "expect fireworks." And a new round of political turmoil, of course, is unlikely to help promote either democracy or security.

Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2016175,00.html
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Congo Watch Editor's Note: A similar version of the above was published earlier today (Wednesday, 08 September 2010) at this blog's parent site, Sudan Watch http://sudanwatch.blogspot.com and cross-posted today at sister site Uganda Watch http://ugandawatch.blogspot.com.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

UN's DR Congo “Mapping Report” to be released October 1st - UN chief urges Rwanda over Sudan peacekeepers



Photo: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir shakes hands with Rwandan UNAMID Commander Lieutenant General Patrick Nyamvumba on arrival at the El Fasher International Airport, north Darfur, February 24, 2010. (Photo: Reuters/via RNA News)

(AGENCIES) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Rwanda Thursday not to withdraw peacekeepers from Sudan, as it has threatened because of war crimes claims, and highlighted their role in regional stability.

A Rwandan army spokesman said Tuesday the country would withdraw about 3,500 peacekeepers from Sudan if the UN publishes a report on war crimes allegedly committed by Kigali in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Noting Rwanda's contribution to two UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Ban told journalists in Vienna: "I hope that this contribution will continue for the peace and security of the region."

"Peace and security in Darfur and Sudan has very big implications for peace in the wider region," he added.

The UN draft report alleges that Rwandan Tutsi troops and their rebel allies targeted, chased, hacked, shot and burned Hutus in the DR Congo, from 1996 to 1997, after the outbreak of a cross-border Central African war.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Jill Rutaremara, said in a statement that if the report is published, the Rwandan Defence Force has a plan in place to withdraw its peacekeepers from Sudan.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced Thursday that the report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 1993 and 2003 will be made public on 1 October 2010.

“Following requests, we have decided to give concerned states a further month to comment on the draft,” Pillay said, “and I have offered to publish any such comments alongside the report itself on 1 October, if they so wish.”

According to the report, the Rwandan army and associated Congolese rebel groups systematically targeted members of the Hutu tribe in DR Congo.

The actions of the Rwandan army in seeking revenge on Hutus in DR Congo could be defined as genocide, the report said.

Sources: See reports below.

UN chief urges Rwanda over Sudan peacekeepers
AFP - Thursday, 02 September 2010

UN delays release of controversial report on Congo massacres
Deutsche Presse Agentur - Thursday, 02 September 2010, 15:29 GMT
(Geneva) - The release of a United Nations report detailing the massacre of thousands of civilians by Rwandan and Congolese forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been delayed by a month, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said Thursday.

The draft report, leaked to the media last week, outraged Rwanda and led to the East African nation threatening to pull its troops from UN peacekeeping missions, starting with Sudan's Darfur province.

'Following requests, we have decided to give concerned states a further month to comment on the draft,' Pillay said, 'and I have offered to publish any such comments alongside the report itself on 1 October, if they so wish.'

The report details hundreds of incidents and the killings of tens of thousand of non-combatants, including women and children, in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003.

According to the report, the Rwandan army and associated Congolese rebel groups systematically targeted members of the Hutu tribe in DR Congo.

Hutu militia slaughtered 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, which was ended by invading Tutsi forces led by Paul Kagame, who is now president of the Central African nation. Around 1 million Hutus fled to DR Congo as the Tutsi army bore down on Kigali.

The actions of the Rwandan army in seeking revenge on Hutus in DR Congo could be defined as genocide, the report said.

There were rumours that UN head Ban Ki-moon pressured Pillay to remove the word 'genocide' from the text. However, Pillay's spokesman said Ki-moon had not made any attempt to have the text altered.

Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told reporters in Kigali earlier this week that Rwandan soldiers in Darfur, numbering almost 3,500, had been put on standby for withdrawal in advance of the report's publication.

The genocide is still a sensitive subject in Rwanda. Opponents of Kagame have been arrested on charges of 'genocide ideology' for suggesting invading Tutsi forces massacred Hutu civilians.

Kagame recently won a landslide re-election.

DR Congo is still recovering from a full-scale conflict that ran from 1998-2003. An estimated 5.4 million people have died as a result of the conflict and its long aftermath.
UN Delays Congo 'Genocide' Report
Voice of America News - Thursday, 02 September 2010
Rwanda said Tuesday it is ready to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from Sudan if the UN published what it called the "outrageous and damaging report.

Rwanda asked for response on UN “Genocide” report
RNA News - Thursday, 02 September 2010 16:12 by RNA Reporters
Kigali: The controversial UN report which Rwanda has severely contested as it claims its forces massacred civilians in DR Congo over a 10-year period will be released in October with comments from the named countries, its authors said Thursday.

UN human rights chief announces release date for DR Congo “Mapping Report”
United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
GENEVA, Switzerland, September 2, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced Thursday that the report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 1993 and 2003 will be made public on 1 October 2010.

“Following requests, we have decided to give concerned states a further month to comment on the draft,” Pillay said, “and I have offered to publish any such comments alongside the report itself on 1 October, if they so wish.”

The mapping exercise and its resulting report are unprecedented in scope, covering ten years and the entire territory of the DRC, not just the war-torn east. The report describes a total of more than 600 incidents in the DRC between 1993 and 2003 in which tens of thousands of people were killed. Most of these attacks were directed against non-combatant civilian populations consisting primarily of women and children. Over 1,280 witnesses were interviewed to corroborate or invalidate alleged violations, including previously undocumented incidents, and more than 1,500 documents were collected and analysed during the two years that it took to research and write the report.

The overarching objective of the DRC Mapping Exercise is “to formulate a series of options aimed at assisting the Government of the DRC in identifying appropriate transitional justice mechanisms to deal with the legacy of these violations, in terms of truth, justice, reparation and reform.”
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U.S. HELPS TO BRING CONGO REBELS TO JUSTICE

US helps to bring Congo rebels to justice, Hillary says
Report from Miraya FM - Thursday, 26 August 2010 11:05
The United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US will help any effort to bring to justice rebels accused in the mass rape of women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rebels from the Mai Mai militia and Rwandan Hutu FDLR, who occupied the town of Luvungi in North Kivu province from July 30 to Aug. 3, raped and assaulted at least 154 civilians, according to UN figures.

The UN adopted a resolution last year recognizing the importance of preventing and responding to sexual violence as a tactic of war against civilians. However, Clinton said it was now time for member nations to go beyond that with specific steps to protect civilians against sexual violence and prosecute those who commit such atrocities. The UN has a peacekeeping force of nearly 20,000 members in Congo. A UN spokesman said the peacekeeping force only heard about the incident in the eastern province more than a week after it happened. The world body said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was outraged by the attacks and dispatched a top official to Congo on Tuesday. The UN did not spell out the precise mandate of the mission.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Rwanda: Plan ready to withdraw peacekeepers from Sudan

Report from SRS - Sudan Radio Service - Wednesday, 01 September 2010
Rwanda To Pull Out Peacekeeping Troops From Sudan
01 September 2010 - (Darfur) – The Rwandan government announced on Tuesday that it is threatening to withdraw its peacekeeping troops in Darfur and southern Sudan.

The move follows UN accusations that the Rwandan forces were involved in the inter-ethnic killing in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s.

A diplomatic source told SRS on Wednesday that the withdrawal of Rwandan troops, one of the top contributing countries to the UNAMID force, will make UNAMID’s mandate quite difficult in Darfur.

However, the governor of southern Darfur, Doctor Abdulhamid Musa Kasha, said that Sudanese forces are controlling the security situation in Darfur. He said there was no need for UNAMID peacekeeping troops in the region.

Kasha spoke to SRS from Nyala on Wednesday.

[Abdulhamid Musa Kasha]: “We welcome the presence of the Rwandan peacekeeping forces, but for Rwanda to withdraw its troops from the UNAMID - that is something that does not concern the Sudan government. We are controlling the security situation in Darfur ourselves. Even the kidnapping of foreigners in Darfur that you are hearing, are being caused because of errors made by UNAMID.”

Rwanda has 3,556 personnel serving in UNAMID and UNMIS, the UN mission in Sudan.
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Report from Associated Press - Wednesday, 01 September 2010
Rwanda: Plan ready to withdraw peacekeeping troops
KIGALI, Rwanda - Rwanda says it is ready to withdraw its U.N. peacekeepers from Sudan if the U.N. publishes a report accusing Rwanda's army of possible genocide in the 1990s.

Rwanda Defence Force spokesman Lt. Col. Jill Rutaremara said Tuesday that the country has finalized a contingency withdrawal plan from Darfur and Southern Sudan if the U.N. publishes its "outrageous and damaging report."

A draft of the report leaked last week accuses Rwandan troops and allies tied to Congo's current president of slaughtering tens of thousands of Hutus in Congo. The alleged attacks came two years after those troops stopped Rwanda's 1994 genocide that killed more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Rwanda has described the report as "fatally flawed."
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RWANDAN OFFICIAL CRITICAL OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL



Photo: Rwandan president Paul Kagame holds a press conference in Kigali, Rwanda, as citizens vote for president Monday for the second time since the country's 1994 genocide, 9 Aug 2010. (AP).

Source: VOA News report by Peter Clottey, 31 August 2010 - Rwanda Official Critical of Amnesty Law Review Appeal - excerpt:
"... the justice minister said the government has reassured Amnesty it will be taking into consideration its concerns when reviewing the laws to improve them.

“What Amnesty International has not told the world, which is really very unfortunate, is that I gave them three assignments to do for us. One [was] to check for us how this legislation is written in other European countries where hate legislation is in place. They have not responded to that. Then, I ask them also to do research for us on how our courts have interpreted it. They have not done that,” he said.

Officials of Amnesty International were not immediately available for comment despite repeated attempts."

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