Friday, January 16, 2009

LRA Sowing Chaos in Northeast

Various outlets in the last couple of weeks have written about the LRA's destructive path through northeastern Congo as the violent rebel movement fled from the Ugandan-led attack on its base in the Garamba forest in mid-December. But this report from Bloomberg is the most authoritative story to date. In it, HRW's Anneke Van Woudenberg says that the LRA killed more than 600 people between December 24 and January 11 in the region bordering Sudan. And the UNHCR says that the LRA have forced 115,000 from their homes since September, as villagers flee from the dreaded rebels.

Meanwhile, Enough, a well-connected Africa-focused lobbying group headed by former Clinton administration officials, confirmed my early suspicion that ‘Operation Lightning Thunder,’ was launched with the support of the United States. It complains that "the joint military operation against the rebel group launched in mid-December by the armies of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Government of Southern Sudan—with the support of the United States—has been poorly executed to date and has so far only made the crisis worse."

In addition, the failure of the operation is beginning to draw criticism against Uganda president Yoweri Museveni, says Rosebell Kagumire, of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. "Support for the war is faltering in the Ugandan parliament," she writes. "As controversy around the operation continues, calls are increasing for a ceasefire and reassessment."

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