Uganda’s government is accusing Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of undermining the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which called for a cessation of hostilities. This follows reports compiled by the United Nations that suggests that the rebels are increasing their numbers through abductions and training of women and children in and around the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report says more than 500 youths have been abducted over the last three months. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, reportedly said he is concerned about recent abductions of the LRA, adding that the international arrest warrants against rebel leader Joseph Kony and other rebel commanders should be upheld.
But the rebels rejected the accusations, saying rebel leader Kony is determined to help find a lasting solution to the rebels’ more than two-decade insurgency in northern Uganda. From the capital, Kampala Uganda’s International Affairs Minister Okello Oryem tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government is disturbed by the LRA’s abductions.
“We have been aware that the LRA has been abducting children, youth and women from Central African Republic and from Sudan in the last couple of months. Our concern is that we have also got information that they are indoctrinating the children and trying to prepare them to become LRA soldiers in some ways. Well, this is a direct breach of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and it is an act of hostility by the LRA. It is something that goes against the spirits of the agreements that we have signed. And hence, it has become a matter of concern not only to the government of Uganda, but also to the governments in the region,” Oryem noted.
He said the action of the rebels impacts negatively on countries in the sub-region.
“What we should appreciate at this time is that the LRA’s big numbers now are not only a problem to the government of Uganda, but a threat to regional security in the great lakes region,” he said.
Oryem said the Uganda government has complained to the chief mediator of peace talks with the rebels, Riek Machar.
“We have informed the chief mediator. He is aware. The Vice President of Southern Sudan Riek Machar is aware of this development by the LRA. A few days ago when he returned from Ri-Kwamgba, held a press conference in Juba, he did acknowledge is that the LRA has been abducting children, women and youth, and yet it seems the LRA is trying to swell its numbers and ranks by training this youth and woman who have been abducted. Thus, the LRA forces are becoming bigger. So it is a very serious concern on the side of the government of the Southern Sudan, just as much as it is serious for the government of Uganda. We have made our concern known to the rebel delegation and we hope we would be able to soon resolve it,” Oryem noted.
He reiterated the seriousness, which the Uganda government attaches to the peace negotiations.
“The government of Uganda is serious in its dealing with the LRA. The government of Uganda intends that whatever we do to get the final peace agreement signed and when the leaders of the LRA, including Kony himself do submit themselves to the jurisdiction of Uganda, we hope that they will then be able to go through the judicial process as agreed in the peace agreement with Uganda in order to address principally injustice and also the issue of impunity,” he said.