New Vision (Kampala)

2 January 2009

Uganda: Congo Vows to Destroy Rebel Kony

Kampala — THE Congolese government has vowed to destroy the Lord's Resistance Army, marauding in its North-eastern region.

"We have decided to destroy the LRA," government spokesman, Lambert Mende Omalanga said on New Year's eve.

"We have given the LRA the chance to negotiate peace with the authorities in its country, but they have refused to sign. We cannot keep people in our territory who kill innocents civilians," Mende added, in an interview with AFP.

The LRA rebels led by the elusive Joseph Kony have been holed up in the densely-forested Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2005 when they fled an onslaught by the UPDF in the north and south Sudan.

The Government and the rebels were involved in peace talks in Juba, South Sudan since July 14, 2006 to April 2008. However, Kony four times refused to sign the final peace agreement citing the International Criminal Court warrants of arrest for him and his commanders.

Tired of his no-shows and angered by his continued atrocities; Uganda, the DRC and Southern Sudan sent their armies to hunt down Kony in Garamba.

The military offensive code-named Operation Lightning Thunder was launched on December 14, 2008; with bombardment of LRA bases and para-trooping of commandos.

The fleeing rebels in the festive season turned their paranoia onto the civilians, killing 400 in Dungu, Doruma, Faradje, Bangadi and Gurba in the DRC and Maridi in Southern Sudan.

According to Caritas, an international Catholic aid agency working in Haut-Uele and Orientale province in the DRC, the massacres were conducted between December 24 and 27.

The UN's Security Council and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon condemned the rebels for atrocities and urged them to respect the international humanitarian law.

The Archbishop of Dungu-Doroma in the north east Orientale province, Richard Domba, denounced what he said was the "indescribable savagery and barbaric acts" of the LRA.

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