UN urged to back push against Uganda rebels

A United Nations envoy urged the Security Council on Wednesday to support efforts by Uganda to put an end to one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts with a military offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“I have made an appeal for the international community to support this effort of the Ugandan government,” former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, a UN special envoy to northern Uganda, told reporters after briefing the council.

The offensive agreed by Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan, with backing from Washington, began on Sunday with an aerial attack against LRA camps in the remote Garamba National Park in eastern DRC.

Analysts say regional governments have lost patience with LRA leader Joseph Kony, who has repeatedly failed to sign a 2006 peace deal to end fighting that has displaced thousands.

Chissano said the 15-nation council “expressed sympathy and support for the military action” led by Uganda.

“They also urged that the peace process be continued and [said] they would support the peace process,” he added.

Council diplomats said they hope to agree a unanimous statement backing efforts against the LRA in the coming days.

The elusive Kony and two of his deputies have been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. But Kony, a self-proclaimed mystic, wants the ICC arrest warrants to be dropped before the rebels leave their camps.

Uganda’s government has pledged to ask the UN Security Council to suspend the ICC warrants after Kony lays down his arms. But the self-proclaimed prophet remains suspicious.

Chissano said the council has not discussed freezing the indictments as Kony has yet to honour his commitments.

Britain’s UN Ambassador John Sawers told reporters the military action to end the LRA was necessary since Kony had refused to cooperate in the peace process.
He described Kony’s militia as a “festering sore in this region of Africa”.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to Security Council members urging them to take a strong public stand against the LRA and support efforts to apprehend Kony and his deputies wanted by the ICC.

The letter said there were “credible reports” that the LRA began committing fresh atrocities earlier this year, adding that there were consistent reports that the LRA was behind “abductions, killings, and pillaging” in DRC this fall.

For two decades, Kony’s fighters have waged war against Uganda’s government, mutilating victims, displacing nearly two million people and destabilising a swath of Central Africa.—Reuters

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