Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Uganda: Dismantling the LRA bit by bit.

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

UPDF will not attack surrendering LRA rebels

                                                                                LRA commander, Joseph Kony

The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) will grant safe passage and will not attack defecting fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who are surrendering to the United Nations (UN).

This comes after the UN on Monday confirmed a decision by over 1,200 LRA fighters operating in the east of Central African Republic (CAR) to abandon rebellion.

If true this is great news. 

The UN in a statement on Monday said it was sending a delegation to Bria, in CAR to investigate the reports of a possible large defection and disarmament of a group within the LRA.

A UN mission comprising of the UN Integrated Bureau for Peace Consolidation in CAR (BINUCA) led by Gen. Babacar Gueye is to travel to Nzako, where LRA fighters have started handing over their weapons to the authorities.

But Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Katumba Wamala said although it is not the first time LRA has offered to abandon rebellion, Uganda will wait to see their resolve when they come out.

“It’s not the first time. We will not attack them if they come out to surrender to UN. We will be saving lives. If this is happening, we shall not oppose them,” said Gen. Katumba.

Unfortunately it doesn't mean the end of the " rebellion " although I think rebellion is the wrong term it is more a personality cult.

Presently, the UPDF is in areas of CAR under the four-member AU Regional Taskforce against LRA comprising of LRA-affected countries of South Sudan, CAR and DR Congo.

However, this anti-LRA operation is in a lull following an impasse over the legality of the Seleka junta which deposed President Francoise Bozize. The African Union consequently suspended Central African Republic’s members in the continental body.

I would take that with a grain of salt. I am sure that the Ugandan army will stop looking for Kony on the day they kill him and that day can't come soon enough.

The defections come in wake of reports that Kony issued orders to execute disobedient commanders, marginalize older commanders as well as the harvest elephant ivory.

Kony operates on terror to maintain loyalty and that is not real loyalty. A lot of the people surrendering will have been forced recruits. I hope the marginalisation of the older commanders is true because they represent the the most loyal of his followers. We are not dealing with an evil genius in Kony just an evil person. That he may be bringing about the weakening and hopefully the destruction of the LRA is not all that much of a surprise.   
Also, many Ugandan fighters who make up the core of the LRA are disillusioned by the difficulty of life in the forests, with pressure mounted by UPDF and the US military advisers.

Gen. Katumba said the LRA surrender en masse, could be a result of tough living conditions in CAR jungles, and the realization that those who have surrendered in the past have received good treatment.

That and the realisation that Kony offers only death for his followers.

Also, the defections could be attributed to the “Come Home” messages broadcast from helicopters, FM radios and dropping of leaflets to LRA fighters in the jungles.

A very good idea. 

Kony and his top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to answer charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. A report published by The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative in July this year said that Kony was operating in the Kafia Kingi enclave, which is a disputed area under the control of the Sudan Armed Forces.

                            ( Kafia Kingi is the shade bit above the Central African Republic )

He isn't thought to be there now but his whereabouts is as far as I can see more speculation than any real hard intelligence. I guess that is why he is still alive.

" The LRA's recent departure from its established camps in Kafia Kingi provides international diplomats with an opportunity to convince the Sudanese government to definitively end its decades-long collaboration with the LRA." 

Yesterday, the international children NGO Invisible Children in a statement said the imminent large defection is an incredible step forward in dismantling the LRA, and a victory for victims.

Let us hope so.

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