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Uganda's LRA Rebels Call for Halt to Regional Military Offensive


Uganda's Lord's Resistances Army (LRA) rebels spokesman David Matsanga is making a passionate plead to three regional countries to halt their military offensive against LRA hideouts in eastern Congo.

The appeal came as Uganda, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have carried out their second day of military operations against LRA camps.

Matsanga told VOA the LRA wants peace but would defend itself if the military operations do not stop.

"First of all I would like to tell the whole international community that this afternoon Vice President Dr. Riek Machar (of South Sudan) announced over the BBC that his border is closed. At the same time, Ri-Kwangba, which the President of Uganda is saying that the LRA should assemble is in Ri-Kwangba and near the border post. The radius of assembly point is 15 kilometers around the Ri-Kwangba area, which includes Congo territory. The Congolese government has announced that they will fight the LRA to throw them out of Congo. I would like to appeal to the world. How do you expect the LRA to assemble in Ri-Kwangba area when the Congolese army has vowed to wipe out the LRA in Ri-Kwangba," he said.

Matsanga appealed to the international community to help in calling on the Ugandan President Museveni, President Kabila of the DRC and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to halt their attack to allow LRA negotiators to talk to their fighters.

He rejected comments by Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Nkunda that the attacks against would continue until LRA leader Joseph Kony and his rebels were completely destroyed.

"Why do you want to finish the people at the same time you say you want to open peace. This is something that I cannot understand. I cannot be a party to a place which breaks confidence. If the Ugandan government is determined for a military operation, some of us will also tell the LRA that it is up to them to defend themselves," Matsanga said.

Matsanga would not say whether he had talked with LRA leader Kony since the military campaign began.

"I am not going to disclose what I have contact with and what I can do as LRA chief negotiator. The situation which has moved is more of a military situation, and I am not capable to discuss a military situation over international radio station," Matsanga said.

The U.S State Department said Monday it welcomed the military offensive against the LRA. Spokesman Robert Wood criticized the LRA of wreaking havoc on the people in northern people in Uganda.

Matsanga likened the LRA's 22 year-old struggle to that of the struggle of former South African president Nelson Mandela against apartheid.

"As I told you, Mandela was in jail for 28 years, but Mandela never hop to fight apartheid. This conflict has taken 22 years; we have only negotiated for two years, and we have only failed to sign an agreement two times. Palestinians, Israelis negotiate and they failed and they come back. But they don't take military operation which is contrary to destroying the whole process. Why have we rushed into military operation. The people of northern Uganda at the moment are not certain of what is going to happen to their lives because there is nobody in northern Uganda who is going to be happy with this military operation," Matsanga said.


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