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Uganda's LRA Rebel Spokesman Skeptical of Top Rebel Commander's Capture

A spokesman for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels is denying Ugandan government announcement that it has captured a top LRA commander in a joint operations with the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

A Ugandan army spokesman says troops captured Thomas Kwoyelo, who is believed to be fourth-in-command of the rebel group Tuesday in the remote forests in northeastern Congo.

David Nyekorach Matsanga, LRA Chief Peace Negotiator, told VOA the news of Kwoyelo’s capture could be a hoax.

“Most of the time when the Ugandan government talks about capturing commanders or people surrendering it becomes a hoax. If they have said they have Kwoyelo with them, they should always bring Kwoyelo. We know who he is, we know what he looks like, and most people have doubted the picture they have put on TV is Kwoyelo’s picture,” he said.

The caption of a picture on a Ugandan government website shows a man the caption said was Kwoyelo being assisted by Ugandan army officers as he disembarks a plane on arrival at Entebbe military airbase.

Still Matsanga said the picture is part of Ugandan government propaganda to prove to the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo that the joint military operation in eastern Congo is working.

“That is not the Thomas that everybody knows, and therefore we don’t think it is proper because this is a story that was brought they wanted to justify their stay in Congo by saying the operation is going on very well. Yet this operation is going on very badly,” Matsanga said.

He said military operations against the LRA will not bring peace to northern Uganda. In fact Matsanga said it would only worsen the situation.

“This is why I went to Tanzania to deliver a petition to the Secretary General of the United Nations and to all the people concerned in this conflict, Riek Machar of Sudan and Salva Kiir of Sudan that there is need for a ceasefire followed by a discussion on the ICC arrest warrant (against LRA leader Joseph Kony),” he said.

Matsanga said ICC arrest warrants against Kony and some of top commanders should be suspended to allow the LRA leader and his fighters to assembly in the Congolese border town of Rikwamba to sign the final peace agreement.