The Ugandan military announced Sunday
that it has begun withdrawing its forces from the Democratic Republic of Congo
where they have been pursuing Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. Since December last year, the Ugandan military have been
engaged in a joint operation with Congolese and southern Sudanese forces
against the LRA.
The operation was launched after
rebel leader Joseph Kony failed to sign a peace agreement last year. Ugandan
military spokesman Felix Kulayigye said Sunday the operation had been a
success, with around 100 LRA rebels killed and more than 200 abductees rescued.
LRA chief peace negotiator David Matsanga told VOA the military adventure in Congo
was a failure because with Kony still at large, the northern Uganda conflict
can only be resolved through peaceful means.
have said time and time again over this radio station and other radio stations
worldwide that the attack on 13 of December 2008 was not called for. It was
meant to destroy the peace process. The withdrawal is a triumph for peace
lovers like me and others who have fought so hard to make sure that Ugandan
troops withdraw and that we re-engage the Ugandan government in a neutral country so
that we can find a long-lasting solution to our problem," he said.
rejected Ugandan military spokesman Felix Kulayigye's claims that the Congo
operation was a success because around 100 LRA rebels had been killed and more
than 200 abductees rescued.
"What do you call success?
You call killing people a success? A person like Major Felix Kulayigye has
never seen much of the trouble, anguish, the pain the people of northern Uganda
have gone through. What success when you have killed over 1,000 people,
people's property have been destroyed and you have called that success? In fact if the chief of defence forces of
Uganda was an honorable man he would resign because he gave wrong intelligence
information to President (Yoweri) Museveni and the operation has collapsed,"
Humanitarian groups and
human rights activists have accused the LRA of massacring hundreds of civilians
during the joint operation in Congo.
Matsanga laid the blame for
the alleged killings on a battalion of the Ugandan defense forces.
"Everybody knows that I said
Battalion 105 is a battalion composed of a breakaway group of LRA combatants.
They are in Dumbu as we speak right now. So these killings, most of them were
done by Battalion 105. Why doesn't the U.N. investigate what is the composition
of this Battalion, where are they, how many of them are there, what are they
doing?" he said.
Matsanga said the Ugandan
conflict cannot be resolved through military means. To drive that point home, he
said former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano and United Nations special
envoy to for the Ugandan conflict was in Uganda to explore ways to restart the stalled peace
would like to tell you yesterday I met President Chissano; I presented
President Chissan with a proposal what we call in conflict resolution a roadmap
to peace. We have put in this document, one ceasefire. We want a total
ceasefire in the region so that we can communicate with our commanders on the
ground on what we should do. Two, a stakeholders' conference to assess why
President Museveni and others decided to attack when there is a peace process,"
Ugandan government has been pushing for LRA leader Joseph Kony to sign the final peace
agreement. But Matsanga said Kony cannot sign any agreement when the group is under attack
from the Ugandan military.
can Kony sign an agreement when there is no ceasefire? How can Kony sign an
agreement when jet fighters are on top looking for him? How can Kony sign an
agreement when everybody knows that the ICC (International Criminal Court)
indictments are the ones that have collapsed this peace process? So these are
the issues that we want to look and then bring permanent peace to northern
Uganda," Matsanga said.