The spokesman for the Lord's Resistance Army says Congolese forces and U.N. peacekeepers in Congo Kinshasa are preparing to move against the rebel group, which has yet to sign a peace deal to end a 20-year reign-of-terror in the region. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has the story from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi.
Speaking from the southern Sudanese town of Juba, where peace talks have been taking place since 2006, Lord's Resistance Army spokesman David Matsanga says he fears government troops, backed by the U.N. mission in Congo Kinshasa, are preparing to attack LRA bases in northeast Congo.
Calling recent military movements there "provocative," Matsanga accused the Congolese government and the United Nations of trying to sabotage negotiations aimed at peacefully disbanding the rebel group.
"We have restrained ourselves and I have told them to restrain themselves from any provocative approach that could create chaos. Why do they do it? That threat is there to scupper the peace process," he said.
The U.N. military spokesman in Congo Kinshasa, Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich confirms that the Congolese government has sent 200 of its troops to the northeastern town of Dungu and nearly 1,000 additional soldiers may soon be deployed.
Dietrich says the soldiers there are not preparing to launch an offensive against Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army, but to protect the local population, which has long been threatened and terrorized by LRA fighters based there. He says U.N. peacekeepers are providing logistical support to the Congolese troops.
"We are not going after Mr. Kony. The only thing we did, we have prepared some logistical bases in order to launch an operation if that would be necessary in order to stop the hostilities from this group against the population in the upper north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is all," said Dietrich.
The Lord's Resistance Army began fighting the Ugandan government 20 years ago as a quasi-religious movement. It became notorious for raping and mutilating tens of thousands of civilians in Uganda and forcibly recruiting children to act as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves.
In recent years, Joseph Kony and his fighters have grown into a regional threat, setting up new bases, looting villages, recruiting child soldiers, and abducting civilians in Congo Kinshasa, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
In April, Kony failed to appear for the signing of what was to have been a final peace accord with the Ugandan government. He says he will not sign such an agreement until the International Criminal Court drops war crimes charges against him.