10 June, 2008

Things Escalate

SPLA to Attack Kony Hideout

New Vision (Kampala)


8 June 2008

Posted to the web 9 June 2008

By Milton Olupot and Patrick Jaramogi


THE Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) is set to attack Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army rebels, Southern Sudan trade minister Anthony Makana has said.

He made the remarks on Saturday after the LRA attacked an SPLA detachment in Nabanga, killing 23 people, including 14 SPLA officers and a local chief in the nearby Yamba town. The attackers reportedly headed towards the Ugandan border after the incident.

"Enough is enough! We have been lenient for long and the time to act has come. The LRA have abused the hospitality we accorded them," Makana said while presiding over celebrations to mark 25 years of the SPLA/M at Pope Paul Memorial Centre in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb.

"Only action will force Kony to come out. We are still consulting with other regional leaders so that we flush him out of his hideout. We shall not tolerate any more attacks on our people, we are going to deal with him firmly."

During an interview with Radio France International over the weekend, Kony claimed that it was the SPLA forces that first attacked the LRA position on Thursday and the LRA only reacted.

Intelligence reports in the region indicate that Kony is recruiting fresh fighters and acquiring new arms. About 1,000 new recruits have been added to the existing 600 combatants.

Sources said the LRA were also digging up arms caches and abducting civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

The heads of the militaries of Uganda, the DR Congo and Southern Sudan last week announced plans to launch a joint operation alongside the UN's MONUC forces against the LRA.

Kony snubbed mediators in April after raising hopes that he would sign a peace deal to end over two decades of war in northern Uganda, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced two million more.

In his State-of-The-Nation address on Thursday, President Yoweri Museveni, said the UPDF was ready to finish the LRA rebels if they attempted to re-enter Uganda.

He said it was the responsibility of the DRC, the Sudanese government and that of the Central African Republic governments to fight the LRA from their territories.

In a related development, UN Envoy for the north Joaquim Chissano and Museveni met in Kampala on Saturday and discussed the peace process.

Chissano is also due to present a report on the peace talks to the UN Security Council.

The Sudanese information minister, Gabriel Changson Chengm, over the weekend said his government had suspended its mediation of the peace deal between Uganda and the LRA.

But the spokesperson of the Uganda government delegation, Capt. Chris Magezi, yesterday said there was still an opportunity for the LRA to sign the deal.
He added that the chief mediator, Dr. Riek Machar, and his government were still playing their role.

"If Kony signs the final peace agreement today, Uganda will implement it. The UPDF is on the alert and will
destroy the LRA on if they dare cross the border to Uganda," he added.

Ironically, the LRA claimed they were commited and eager to resume the peace talk to end the 20-year-long conflict.

Former LRA peace delegation head David Nyekorach-Matsanga on Friday told The New Vision that he had been reinstated and his new mandate was to put back the peace deal process on track and organise for the signing of the final agreement.

But Magezi yesterday said the Ugandan Government was not aware of Matsanga's latest correspondences with Kony.

Kony fired Matsanga on April 9, the eve of the signing of the peace agreement.

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