SUDAN WATCH: CAR: "LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda" - ICC Ocampo: "Violence it is not a ticket to power, but to The Hague"

Monday, October 25, 2010

CAR: "LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda" - ICC Ocampo: "Violence it is not a ticket to power, but to The Hague"

THE African Union (AU) is helping four nations in central Africa build an international army to corner cross-border guerrillas in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

This new army, with soldiers from Uganda, Sudan, Central Africa Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) will pursue the LRA across borders. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamara says it's an encouraging plan that the AU will back.

At a meeting held 13-14 October 2010 in the CAR aimed at promoting a joint approach to the LRA, participants agreed to take steps to have the LRA classified as terrorists, rather than rebels, by the AU.

This would give affected countries greater access to international funds and require increased levels of judicial cooperation.

The representatives from Uganda, DR Congo and Sudan met in Bangui, CAR on Wednesday 13 October and Thursday 14 October, along with Kenya, where they also agreed to step up joint military action.

"Participants agreed to the following concrete measures: the creation of a joint centre of operations, the creation of a joint taskforce to lead actions against the LRA, and the deployment of joint border patrols," the AU said in a statement.

Ministers from the four countries affected by LRA attacks decided to establish the joint brigade - which would be backed by the AU - to go after the rebels.

They said they would also set up a joint operations centre, which would facilitate the exchange of information and intelligence.

The plan also envisages joint border patrols. All this would be co-ordinated by a special AU representative.

A diplomatic source contacted by the BBC says the plan also relies on Nigeria and South Africa - the only two African nations that have the logistical capacity to bring the plan to fruition.

This announcement is the first step towards the long-awaited creation of a mobile brigade that the AU can call on in times of trouble, the BBC World Service's Africa editor Martin Plaut says.

He says that although the AU statement only mentions the LRA, there are suggestions that this brigade could provide a blueprint for cross-border operations against al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, which is currently plaguing areas of Mali and Mauritania.

According to a news report by Press TV (see copy below) the LRA has headed for Darfur region in Sudan, amid calls for their arrest on charges of war crimes, an archbishop says. Excerpt:
The Catholic Archbishop Juan José Aguirre Munos of Bangassou city in southeast of Central African Republic announced that the LRA have recently attacked the town of Birao in the northeast --which borders Darfur -- of the country.

"I know for a fact that the largest group of LRA fighters has left the area in my diocese to head north. Among them is probably their leader, Joseph Kony," a Press TV correspondent quoted the archbishop as saying on Friday, 15 October 2010.
Source: See reports below.
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Five Noteworthy Quotes
"LRA rebels to be given 'terrorist' status" -African Union (Source: AFP report, 17 Oct 2010 - see copy below).
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"The LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda. Thus, it is urgent today to put an end to the atrocities of this rebellion." -CAR Defence Minister Jean-Francis Bozize at African Union session on 14 October 2010 in Bangui, CAR. (Source: AFP report, 14 Oct 2010 - see copy below).
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"The worst enemies of Africa are African themselves. Those who pick up guns, munitions and other deadly weapons to killed citizens pretending saving the people from injustice or dictatorship.
But how many innocent people killed before to get to power and sometime never? These LRA, Al Qaeda in north Africa and all the rebel movement and any other thieves, bribery, embezzlement culprits have to be hunt down from Africa." -Anonymous commenter (Source: Comment at AFP report, 14 Oct 2010 - see copy below).
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"Kenya's case is a signal that if you produce massive violence it is not a ticket to power, but to The Hague." -ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (Source: Daily Nation report, 22 Oct 2010 - see excerpt below).
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"Governments which shall come to power through unconstitutional means shall not be allowed to participate in the activities of the Union." -Article 30 on Suspension, African Union, Constitutive Act done at Lomé, Togo, 11 July 2000. (Source: International Law, 03 October 2010 www.dipublico.com.ar)
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VIOLENCE IS NOT A TICKET TO POWER, BUT TO THE HAGUE

According to a report by Daily Nation published Friday, 22 October 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is working towards using the Kenyan case as a deterrent to other African countries against use of violence as a means of getting into power. Excerpt:
Already, officials from the ICC have been to Guinea, which is planning its elections, and Cote d'voire to impress upon the leaders to hold peaceful elections.

"Kenya's case is a signal that if you produce massive violence it is not a ticket to power, but to The Hague," the ICC prosecutor said.

Mr Ocampo, however, admitted that he is working against 'strong elements' who still perpetuate the idea that committing atrocities is a way of gaining power.
Read full story at Daily Nation, 22 Oct 2010, reprinted today at Kenya Watch:"Kenya: Four to Stand Hague Trial Over Poll Violence This Year"
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THE LRA IS NOW A TERRORIST ORGANISATION LIKE AL-QAEDA

Ugandan rebel group threatens expanded violence in Darfur
Source: Catholic Culture.org
Date: Thursday, 14 October 2010. Excerpt:
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the armed group that has waged a campaign of terror and human-rights violations beginning in northern Uganda and spreading through central Africa, has now set its sights on the already troubled Darfur province of Sudan, an African archbishop has warned.

Archbishop Juan José Aguirre Muños of Bangassou in the Central African Republic told the Fides news service that LRA troops have attacked towns in his country, and now are headed north toward the uncontrolled border of Sudan. The LRA has long been involved in skirmishes in southern Sudan, near its original stronghold in northern Uganda. The move westward into Darfur could exacerbate the bloodshed that already plagues the province.

The LRA, which was originally regarded as a rebel group in Uganda, is led by Joseph Kony, who will face multiple human-rights charges before an international court if and when he is apprehended.

Bishop Muños reported that the LRA troops headed toward Darfur include a number of child soldiers. The group has made a practice of kidnapping children from the towns it raids and pressing them into service in combat.
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'Uganda's LRA heads for Sudan's Darfur'
Source: Press TV
Date: Friday, 15 October 2010 7:39AM:

Photo: Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)
The Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has headed for the already restive Darfur region in Sudan, amid calls for their arrest on charges of war crimes, an archbishop says.

The Catholic Archbishop Juan José Aguirre Munos of Bangassou city in southeast of Central African Republic announced that the LRA have recently attacked the town of Birao in the northeast --which borders Darfur -- of the country.

"I know for a fact that the largest group of LRA fighters has left the area in my diocese to head north. Among them is probably their leader, Joseph Kony," a Press TV correspondent quoted the archbishop as saying on Friday.

"In recent months, the LRA have attacked towns like Yalinga, then continuing north up to Birao, located in the far northeastern part of the country, on the border with Sudan's Darfur region," Munos stressed.

Meanwhile, Uganda's New Vision newspaper reported on its website Kony has entered the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

“He is in Darfur, he crossed two weeks ago into southern Darfur,” said army spokesperson Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye was quoted on Thursday.
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UN agency sounds alarm over terror campaign by rebels in central Africa
Source: UN News Centre
Date: Friday, 15 October 2010:
The United Nations refugee agency today expressed concern over population displacement resulting from attacks perpetrated by the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in the Central African Republic and neighbouring countries.

The latest raid occurred in the town of Birao in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) last Sunday, during which the rebels abducted a number of girls, looted property and set shops on fire, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

“The LRA’s campaign of terror against civilians has intensified since September,” with attacks in the CAR, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan, he said.

Northeastern DRC has seen at least six attacks and three ambushes in the last few weeks, all in Haut Uélé district. In a single village, Nambiongo, 21 people were killed and were 2,500 displaced, while fear prompted 2,000 people to flee Dungu, the district headquarters.

In southern Sudan, the LRA also attacked the villages of Ribodo and Nahua in Western Equatoria state on 4 September, killing eight people and displacing 2,600.

So far this year, the group, whose origins are in Uganda, has carried out more than 240 deadly attacks against civilians in the countries where it is active. At least 344 people have been killed.

People living in remote villages are often the victims of the group’s violence, including indiscriminate killings, abductions, rape, mutilation, looting and destruction of property.

Insecurity and poor infrastructure hamper the carrying out of needs assessments and the delivery of aid to affected communities. Many people are traumatized and too scared to return to their farms to cultivate their land, rendering them dependent of humanitarian aid, according to UNHCR.

“This means they will continue to depend on outside help for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Edwards said.

Since December 2008, the LRA has murdered 2,000 people, abducted more than 2,600 and displaced over 400,000, UNHCR said. An estimated 268,000 remain displaced in Orientale province in northeastern DRC, over 120,000 in Western Equatoria in southern Sudan and 30,000 in the southeast of the CAR.

There are also more than 24,000 civilians who have been forced into exile.

UNHCR assists those uprooted by LRA violence by providing emergency shelter, healthcare and psycho-social counselling. The agency supports host communities with water and sanitation facilities.
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Central Africa says 'fight LRA like Al-Qaeda'
Source: AFP (reprinted by StarAfrica.com)
Date: Thursday, 14 October 2010 16:05 GMT:
The Central African Republic called Thursday for the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to be treated and fought like Al-Qaeda, in an appeal made at an African Union meeting.

"The LRA is now a terrorist organisation like Al-Qaeda. Thus, it is urgent today to put an end to the atrocities of this rebellion," Defence Minister Jean-Francis Bozize told AFP at the conference in the capital Bangui.

The meeting, which began on Wednesday and was being attended by other countries affected by LRA activity, "aims to evaluate the security, economic and humanitarian aspects of the LRA presence" in the CAR, Bozize said.

The LRA emerged in 1998 in northern Uganda as a rebel movement dedicated to overthrowing the east African country's government and establishing a regime to uphold the Biblical Ten Commandments.

Today however it is infamous for atrocities against civilians, including massacres, and has moved from Uganda to South Sudan, the CAR and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its leaders are wanted for war crimes.

CAR Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi told AFP that "for us, LRA elements are terrorists exactly like Al-Qaeda. The international community must not be stingy with the means to help Centrafrica to get rid of the insecurity created by this rebellion."

At the opening of the meeting, President Francois Bozize denounced the "incursions, pillage, massacres, rapes, hostage takings and villages that are systematically burned down" by the LRA in four regions of the poor landlocked country, national radio reported.

"I formulate the hope that this session will end in proposals and solutions adequate (to deal with) this recurring question," Bozize said.

The Bangui meeting was attended by representatives of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan -- all affected by the rebel group founded by Joseph Kony.

There were also delegates from Kenya, which is the current president of the AU Peace and Security Council, according to a document of the pan-African organisation.

Also present were members of regional organisations, humanitarian bodies and the United States, the document said.

The AU wants to "show the solidarity of the continent with the CAR and places the emphasis on shared responsibility faced with the LRA issue," AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said, quoted by national radio.

"This session should come up with audacious conclusions that orient us towards action against the LRA," Lamamra said.

In December 2008, the Ugandan army launched a surprise offensive against the LRA in the far northeast of the DR Congo. The operation failed to capture Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, and neutralise the LRA, which reformed in several groups.

Since 2009, Ugandan soldiers have been hunting down the LRA in the CAR with the Bangui government's approval, but the rebels still manage brutal attacks against civilians and take hostages as forced labour.

On Wednesday, the International Crisis Group research institute stated that it believed that Kony is in Darfur in west Sudan. Sudan has not authorised Uganda to pursue Kony in Darfur, according to the ICG.

Comment on this article
President 14/10/10 16:22:

"The worst enemies of Africa are African themselves. Those who pick up guns, munitions and other deadly weapons to killed citizens pretending saving the people from injustice or dictatorship.
But how many innocent people killed before to get to power and sometime never? These LRA, Al Qaeda in north Africa and all the rebel movement and any other thieves, bribery, embezzlement culprits have to be hunt down from Africa."
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CAR, DR CONGO, SUDAN AND UGANDA WILL FORM A BRIGADE TO PURSUE THE LRA

LRA rebels to be given 'terrorist' status: African Union
Source: AFP
Date: Sunday, 17 October 2010. Excerpt:
LIBREVILLE — Central African countries plagued by the brutal rebellion of the Lord's Resistance Army are working to reclassify the group as terrorists, the African Union said on Saturday.

At a meeting this week in the Central African Republic aimed at promoting a joint approach to the LRA, participants agreed to take steps to have the LRA classified as terrorists, rather than rebels, by the AU.

This would give affected countries greater access to international funds and require increased levels of judicial cooperation.

The group has killed about 2,000 people in the last two years, and displaced more than 400,000, according to the UN.

Representatives from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan met in Bangui on Wednesday and Thursday, along with Kenya, where they also agreed to step up joint military action.

"Participants agreed to the following concrete measures: the creation of a joint centre of operations, the creation of a joint taskforce to lead actions against the LRA, and the deployment of joint border patrols," the AU said in a statement. [...]



Photo: An armed fighter of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) stands guard (AFP)
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Four African nations crack down on LRA
Source: BBC News online
Date: Saturday, 16 October 2010 - excerpt:
Four African nations have agreed to form a joint military force to fight Lord's Resistance Army rebels, the African Union says.

It says the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda will form a brigade to pursue the militants.

The LRA, which originated in Uganda 20 years ago, has recently mounted deadly attacks in all four countries.

It now targets towns some 1,000km (600 miles) away from Uganda, the UN says. [...]

The action plan to fight the LRA was agreed at Friday's high-level meeting in Bangui - the capital of the Central African Republic, the AU said in a statement. The statement did not mention figures, but a brigade is commonly though to include at least 1,000 men.

Ministers from the four countries affected by LRA attacks decided to establish the joint brigade - which would be backed by the AU - to go after the rebels.

They said they would also set up a joint operations centre, which would facilitate the exchange of information and intelligence.

The plan also envisages joint border patrols. All this would be co-ordinated by a special AU representative.

A diplomatic source contacted by the BBC says the plan also relies on Nigeria and South Africa - the only two African nations that have the logistical capacity to bring the plan to fruition.

This announcement is the first step towards the long-awaited creation of a mobile brigade that the AU can call on in times of trouble, the BBC World Service's Africa editor Martin Plaut says.

He says that although the AU statement only mentions the LRA, there are suggestions that this brigade could provide a blueprint for cross-border operations against al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, which is currently plaguing areas of Mali and Mauritania.
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Central Africa Nations to Form Anti-LRA Fighting Force
Source: Voice of America (voanews.com) by Adrian Edwards in Dakar
Date: Thursday, 21 October 2010:



Photo: The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, left, and his deputy Vincent Otti sit inside a tent Sunday 12, 2006 at Ri-Kwamba in Southern Sudan. (AP)
The African Union is helping four nations in central Africa build an international army to corner cross-border guerrillas in the Lord's Resistance Army.

Since 1987, a Ugandan band of Christian guerrillas has slipped past borders, killed thousands throughout central African villages, and waged what is today one of the continent's longest-running conflicts -- and that conflict isn't going to end, the African Union says, until the region's militaries can assemble a single, multinational army to fight it.

That's exactly what Central African heads of state signed up to do this week at a conference in Tripoli, where delegates drafted plans for an international anti-guerilla fighting force.

This new army, with soldiers from Uganda, Sudan, Central Africa Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo will pursue the Lords Resistance Army across borders. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamara says it's an encouraging plan that the AU will back.

Lamara says the plan of action heads of state adopted in Tripoli calls on Central African countries to redouble their efforts. It also seeks to establish a coordinated military plan towards the objective of finally neutralizing the LRA, he says. This plan will put an end to their atrocities and destablizing activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

The blueprint calls for military assistance from two of the continent's most experienced armies, Nigeria's and South Africa's. It also calls for cross-border intelligence sharing, and for AU support in tracking the maneuvers of Lords Resistance soldiers.

The guerilla faction operating out of Uganda's rural West has been attempting to overthrow Central African governments, Uganda's in particular, and transform the region into a Christian theocracy, with laws based on the biblical ten commandments.

But in the past two years alone, the sect has been accused of killing 2,000 people, and abducting another 2,600, in attacks that the U.N. Human Rights Council says were often orchestrated with child soldiers.

This year has been no less violent, U.N. spokesperson Adrian Edwards says.

"So far this year, the Ugandan rebel group has carried out more than 240 deadly attacks," Edwards said. "At least 344 people have been killed. In most cases these attacks are on vulnerable, isolated communities, with indiscriminate killings, abductions, rape, mutilation, looting and destruction of property."

The International Criminal Court maintains a crimes against humanity arrest warrant against on the LRA's leader, Joseph Kony.

On Thursday, Central Africa Republic defense minister Jean-Francis Bozize asked the international community to classify the guerrillas as a terrorist organization, like al-Qaida, he said.
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LRA And Ambororo Nomadas A Threat In WBGS
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service
Date: Friday, 22 October 2010:
(Wau) – Insecurity is increasing in Western Bahr al Ghazal state due to the presence of Lord’s Resistance Army and Ambororo nomads.

The commissioner of Wau County, Luka Anthony Ubur expressed his concerns to SRS on Thursday over the security situation in the area.

[Luka Anthony Ubur]: “Western Bahr El Ghazal state has been a very safe place ever since. But now there are cases of rising insecurity. Along the part which is neighboring Western Equitoria State, there is a lot of disturbance from activities of the L-R-A. They entered in the border between us and Raja in Kor Hajer and are now causing trouble. The presence of Ambororo is also a threat to our people.”

That was the commissioner of Wau County, Luka Anthony Ubur speaking to Sudan Radio service in Wau on Thursday.
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Further Reading



Photo: One of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs, Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army, (L) is seen shaking hand with southern Sudan's vice president Riek Machar (R) in this image taken from Reuters TV in Nairobi, May 24, 2006. (Reuters TV/CSM)

CAN A JOINT MILITARY FORCE DEFEAT THE LRA?
See comments (24, so far) posted at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/africahaveyoursay
Source: BBC World Service online - Africa HYS team
Date: Monday, 18 October 2010
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THOUGHT OF THE DAY

From Forbes.com

"All true love is founded on esteem."
-George Buckingham

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