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Leading LRA rebel commander surrenders to Ugandan army

By Richard Ruati

November 5, 2009 (KAMPALA) — Lt Col Charles Arop, a leading Ugandan LRA rebels (the Army of the Lord’s Resistance), has decided to surrender himself to the Ugandan army. Arop is responsible for a bloodbath perpetrated on Christmas Day last year in Faradje in the DRC during which at least 143 people have died.

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LRA soldiers keep guard at the assembly point in Ri-Kwangba on the Sudan-Congo border, Western Equatoria, April 10, 2008. (Reuters)

He was left with only one rebel fighter, so he had little choice," a spokesman of the UPDF, LT Col Felix Kulayigye has said on Thursday. The Army spokesperson spoke to Sudan Tribune via telephone hookup from Kampala.
Not a long time ago, Arop commanded an army of 100 rebel fighters, most of them having been decimated after actions from the UPDF.

Kulayigye revealed that “the surrender of Arop took place near Faradje, adding that his surrender is very significant given the fact he was Commander within Kony units, however this has degenerated and declined the commanding chain of LRA.”

He added that, “the surrender of Arop is fortunately making the arrest of Kony the next target of UPDF.”

Asked whether how many Kony fighters are still in the jungles, he said at moment the Ugandan Army doesn’t know, however Kony is believed to be in isolation in Central Africa Republic.”

Lt Col Felix dismissed future peace negotiations with LRA, saying that, “the only options left for Kony are to capture or kill him, except if Kony signs the negotiated agreement.

He dismissed the media reports that, “the Operation Light Thunder is a failure,” he tabled the rescue of 450 abductees and the capture of 20 LRA officers as a success, he also said there are no LRA rebels in DR Congo anymore.

Speaking to local journalist of Yambio FM in Western Equatoria, Lt Col Charles Arop said that, he was arrested in 1994 from Northern Uganda; he has been the immediate operation commander of Joseph Kony.

Arop appealed to his former LRA colleagues those still close to Joseph Kony to put down their guns and come out of the jungles, he directed his appeal mainly to his former closed commanders like Dominic Okello and Smart, that by the mercy of God they should come back home “the children of Acholi have finished in the bush.”

He advised the remaining LRA soldiers in the bush not to fear to hand themselves in to the UPDF.

He further appealed to Joseph Kony himself to come out open, as the war has claimed the lives of innocent civilians and displaced many others.

The Ugandan Army spokesperson said that, Arop may decide to remain as civilian or politician, however if at all he committed any crime against humanity, legal actions shall be taken against him by a competent law institution.

He also revealed that, since the Light Thunder Operations started last December only 12 Ugandans armies have lost their lives.
The Ugandan army hunts down LRA fighters in the DRC, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan. Since the attacks of the army on the LRA at the end of last year, this movement has dispersed in small units.