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Capture of Uganda Rebel a Blessing, Says Cabinet Minister

Uganda's government has described the capture of a senior member of the notorious Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group as a successful harvest.

The Uganda army recently captured Atyak Okot who is the bodyguard of the LRA leader Joseph Kony in neighboring Central African Republic.

The army often accused Okot of playing a pivotal role in the massacre of more than 200 Ugandans at a Gulu, northern Uganda camp for the displaced in 1995.

The LRA has been fighting the Ugandan government for more than two decades killing and maiming thousands in their insurgency.

Uganda cabinet minister Okello Oryem said that information from the captured Okot could lead to the arrest of the LRA rebel leader Kony.

"This has been a successful harvest by the UPDF (Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces) and this is the beginning of the end of the LRA. We will continue pursuing the LRA leadership and high command to its very end," Oryem said.

He said the army aims to capture the LRA rebel leader.

"The UPDF is determined to follow up, pursuing Joseph Kony to the very end, either by capturing him or putting him out of action," he said.

Oryem said the elusive rebel leader has been hiding in the jungles.

"The terrain in which we are looking for Joseph Kony is so dense, so wide, and impenetrable it is the biggest vegetation area on earth. That is the area between the DRC and Central African Republic, and it is almost like looking for a needle in a haystack," Oryem said.

He said the government is backed by neighboring countries in the hunt for the elusive LRA leader.

"The regional cooperation is holding on, is very strong, (and) we are getting full cooperation from the army of the DRC….We have got the full cooperation from the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army) to ensure that the LRA doesn't go into Sudan," he said.

Oryem described as momentous the capture of the rebel.

"This capture is very significant because Okot is a very close bodyguard of Joseph Kony. He has been with Joseph Kony for over 20 years. He knows Joseph Kony's style, his thinking, and his methods. Hence, we think that he is going to help us shorten the time within which we will capture Kony," Oryem said.

He said the government wants peace despite the refusal of the rebel leader to sign the accord.

"Joseph Kony still has the opportunity to sign the final peace agreement. If he comes out in public by making a phone call to President Joachim Chissano, who is the special representative of the U.N … we will give him a safe passage which will enable him to sign the final peace agreement," he said.

Oryem said the government is still fully prepared to implement the agreement it signed with the rebels in the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba last year.