27 December 2012

Uganda: Rebel Advance Worries Kampala

The president of the Central African Republic says he is ready to form a coalition government with rebels. But the rebels say they will advance on ... ( Resource: Central African Republic President Ready for Unity Govt )

Army authorities in Kampala say the recent rebel advance on the capital Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) has frustrated their hunt for the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Joseph Kony.

A rebel group, known as the Seleka coalition reported that they had advanced towards the capital Bangui today, in a bid to oust President Francois Bozize. Some reports now place the rebels 75km towards Bangui, a month after they started their campaign. UPDF spokesperson Col Felix Kulayigye today told The Observer that the rebel advance had placed Uganda into 'a wait-and-see situation'.

"We are waiting to see how it will finally be resolved," Col Kulayigye said.

He stressed that the CAR government can't help the UPDF and the African Union mission track down the LRA rebels, when it is also under attack.

"If the rebels and government agree to talk and peacefully resolve their issues, that will be good," Kulayigye said.

Kulayigye however, spoke warily about a rebel victory.

"If the rebels seize power and order the UPDF to leave, we shall have no option but to pull out our army and defend our borders," Kulayigye added.

He was, however, non-committal when asked if Uganda would help the CAR government in repelling the rebels.

"It has not come to our table; so, I can't comment on that with authority," he said

The rebels, now threatening to topple Bozize's government, accuse him of failing to honour a 2007 peace deal, under which fighters who laid down their arms were meant to be paid. President Bozize also seized power in 2003, although he has since been re-elected twice. Central African Republic is one of the countries where the elusive LRA has been hiding and wreaking havoc since it was forced out of northern Uganda and Garamba forest in the neighbouring DRC.

It is believed that most senior LRA commanders continue to operate out of eastern CAR, as well as the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. The UPDF is part of a coalition of forces including US Special Forces, the DRC and CAR's armies under the command of the African Union, tracking down the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony in the jungles of CAR and the DR Congo.

It is also in CAR where LRA commander Caesar Achellam was captured in May this year. LRA leader Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity, stemming, in part, from allegations of vicious tactics to conscript children as soldiers and sex slaves in his army. The LRA has also been accused of poaching African elephants and smuggling ivory.

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