Uganda's notorious Lord's Resistance Army is lashing out at a senior U.S. official who said Washington would support efforts to wipe out the rebels if peace talks aimed at ending their brutal insurgency collapse. Nick Wadhams has more from Nairobi.
Last week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer said peace talks in Juba, southern Sudan, were the rebel group's only option. She said she wants the talks that began last year wrapped up soon.
A Lord's Resistance Army spokesman, Godfrey Ayoo, says Frazer's remarks were not helpful. He says that if Uganda goes after Lord's Resistance Army troops now sheltering in eastern Congo, the region will see a return to full-scale war.
"Any attack on LRA positions will be a declaration of war, and it will be a call on the Lord's Resistance Army to fight its way back to Uganda and should this peace process break, then the Lord's Resistance Army will fight until it overthrows the government of the Ugandan dictatorship that knows nothing else but war-mongery and war," said Ayoo.
The rebel group has waged a 20-year war against Ugandan troops, and has become infamous for maiming its victims and kidnapping thousands of children who are forced to become sex slaves, fighter and porters.
Rebel troops have left their bases in south Sudan for eastern Congo, and there are fears their presence there, as well as violence between Congolese forces and a host of other militias, could spark a new regional war.
Uganda has demanded that the rebels disarm and return home from Congo. Otherwise, it is warning that it will push into Congo in a bid to wipe out the rebels.
Uganda's defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, tells VOA he is still hopeful about the outcome of talks with the Lord's Resistance Army. He also warned the group that it stands no chance if it tries to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni's government.
"The government of Uganda remains fully committed to the peace process and talks in Juba, and it is our expectation that soon we should reach agreement with the LRA so that they can have a soft landing and return home," said Kiyonga. "The LRA is not in a position to overthrow the government of Uganda. We are talking so that our brothers and sisters come back home and have a soft landing."
As part of efforts to stabilize the region, the United States has organized a meeting on September 15 in Kampala, bringing together leaders from Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to discuss the eastern Congo situation.