By Julius N. Uma
August 27, 2010 (NIMULE) – The Lord’s Resistance Army could attempt to re-enter Uganda through southern Sudan according to a former aide to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
- Richard Todwong a former aide to Ugandan President Yoweri (ST)
Richard Todwong, told Sudan Tribune that an attempt to re-enter Uganda via Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from the LRA’s base in Central African Republic (CAR) could undermine the Southern Sudan’s quest for independence.
The former aide to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said that such a move by could easily be employed as a scapegoat to destabilize the population in the south ahead of their preparations for the forthcoming referendum.
The LRA, led by Joseph Kony, has carried out a brutal insurgency across Uganda, south Sudan, CAR and DRC since 1987, has been accused receiving military assistance from the Khartoum government.
Todwong said that the LRA could easily be used as a scapegoat to destabilize the south ahead of a referendum on independence due in January.
The referendum on self-determination is a key requirement within Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); between the dominant parties of the north and south, which ended over two-decade civil war.
“The LRA now appear to have been a forgotten force, but they may be planning to re-launch new attacks on civilians as they plan to re-enter Uganda through South Sudan or the DRC,” Todwong said.
“Such a move is likely to disorganize the population in the south especially at this time when they referendum preparation[s] are ongoing. Of course not ruling [out] the fact that they [the LRA] could also be used as scapegoats by those opposed to southern independence,” he added.
On August 10, Enough, a campaigning organization, warned of a renewed plot by the rebel outfit to re-enter Uganda next year.
Founded in 2007 to advocate for an end to genocide and crimes against humanity, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army and Somalia.
In its report titled: “This is our land now”, Enough claimed that, “The LRA’s activity demonstrates a commitment to maintaining the option of returning to Uganda.”
The report said that since the attempt to destroy the LRA in 2008 - Operation Lightning Thunder - the LRA has been gaining ground in strategic areas which can be used to re-enter northern Uganda.
“The LRA’s behaviour in Bas Uele [district in northeastern DRC], and more widely in Congo, indicates a well-developed strategy focused on maintaining a presence in Congo that enables cross-border activity in CAR, Sudan, and potentially a route back to northern Uganda via Garamba National Park,” the report says.
The report further found that throughout 2009, the LRA has fought to turn Bas Uele into a safe haven.
“Kony seemed aware of the strategic importance of Bas Uele and sent LRA groups to Banda immediately after Operation Lightning Thunder. On December 16, 2008, two days after the Ugandan army bombed LRA bases in Garamba, Kony met with most of his commanders, according to former LRA fighters. He ordered retaliatory attacks to be carried out and assigned his most important commanders to control various areas in Congo and Sudan,” the report said.
East African Community
Todwong said certain laws within the semi-autonomous region needed to be harmonized in order for southern Sudan to become a part of the East African Community (EAC); a regional body currently comprising of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
“The regional integration involving Southern Sudan is a welcome idea, but certain issues like the customs union and immigration laws, which are still under Sudan as a country will have to be changed to fit the south once its independent,” he observed.
“Once this is achieved, then EAC member countries will review the laws and see if they are in harmony with each other”, he said.