Uganda: The Great Chase

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January 8, 2009: LRA depredations in Congo led to several hundred civilians being kidnapped, and up to 500 more killed. Thousands of civilians fled their homes to escape the LRA rebels, who continue to move towards the  Central African Republic (CAR).

Uganda has begun a two year term on the UN Security Council, and is urging the UN to be more aggressive and flexible in dealing with violence in Africa. Uganda is particularly interested in getting UN peacekeepers more involved in taking down murderous outfits like the LRA, and out-of-control situations like Somalia. Uganda, however, wants Africans calling the shots on how Western muscle is used. Thus Uganda does not back removing the inept and oppressive government of Zimbabwe. African governments in general, do not want to establish a precedent for non-Africans removing corrupt and ineffective African governments, mainly because there are so many of them.

January 6, 2009: The government believes its offensive against LRA strongholds inside Congo have been largely successful. Both UN and Congolese sources report that the LRA's retreat towards the Central African Republic (CAR) continues. The Congo and various NGOs operating in northeastern Congo estimate that the LRA cadres retreating toward the CAR killed around 430 people in attacks on December 25 and 26. The UN and Ugandan military estimate that Kony still has 650 fighters. Since the "joint attack" began on December 14, 2008, the LRA forces have broken down into very small groups. There have been reports of LRA activity in the CAR for over a year and that the LRA was preparing to move to the CAR. It now looks like the LRA, at least at a very general level, was prepared to retreat from northeastern Congo in the event of attacks on its bases.

January 3, 2009: Ugandan operations against the LRA continue inside Congo. The government acknowledges that the "peace process" has stopped. And it blames the LRA's senior commander, Joseph Kony. Responding to criticism that it had "too often chosen the war option" ("war option" is a phrase that crops up in the Ugandan press), the government pointed out right after it began the new offensive against the LRA on December 14, 2008, that the "peace process" had been going on for two years. Kony had agreed to sign a "final peace agreement" in April 2008 and failed to do so. The government believes it has the support of most of the people of Uganda to attack the LRA and eliminate it, or at least eliminate Kony and then seek negotiations with LRA commanders who have laid down their arms. The big question in Uganda is how northern Ugandans (particularly the Acholi tribe) will react to the offensive against the LRA into the Congo. The government points out that southern Sudan and Congo are both supporting the action.

December 31, 2008: AUN peacekeeper operating in northeastern Congo killed a Ugandan Army soldier in an accidental shooting incident in Dungu, Congo. The peacekeeper accidentally fired his machine gun as a Ugandan vehicle was passing near the UN position (a "forward operating base.")  The operation in the Dungu area is a "coalition" operation, with coalition forces drawn from Congo, Government of South Sudan, and Ugandan military units.

December 27, 2008: LRA rebels reportedly raided the village of Bitima along the Congo-Sudan border. 13 people were killed.

The Ugandan military said that it would reinforce units operating in Congo.

The government accused the LRA of "hacking to death" 45 people in a church in the Congolese town of Doruma. First reports suggest that 400 people were killed in several attacks on the Christmas Day in the immediate area, with around 200 slain in Doruma. The grisly report of mass murder by machete has a propaganda-information warfare element, but in the past the LRA has used machetes ("pangas" is the local word) and other edged weapons to kill en masse. One reason is that it saves ammunition.

December 25, 2008:   Congolese and Ugandan government and press sources reported numerous attacks by the LRA on villages in northeastern Congo. An estimated 400 Congolese civilians have been killed.

December 24, 2008: The government now describes the December 14 attack on LRA positions in Congo as a "joint attack" – meaning conducted with Congolese forces.

December 19, 2008: A senior UN diplomat involved in the Uganda-LRA negotiations said that he supported the Ugandan counter-LRA offensive. The diplomat's statement said the goal of the offensive was to "force" LRA senior commander Joseph Kony to sign the permanent peace agreement. This statement is a huge political plus for the government. It isn't unexpected, however, since UN forces in Congo have supported the Congolese Army in its operations against the LRA and LRA sanctuaries.

December 18, 2008: The Ugandan Army reported that "several" LRA camps in northeastern Congo (Garamba National Park, specifically) have been successfully attacked. The army estimates that "70 percent" of the LRA bases have been destroyed. The report said that the LRA's "main camp" (ostensibly the one used by Joseph Kony as a headquarters) had been destroyed.

 

 

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