Friday, February 6, 2009

Dominic makes two

The French Press Agency is reporting that Dominic Ongwen, another deputy commander of the Lord's Resistance Army, also wants to surrender to Ugandan forces fighting in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The possible surrender of Ongwen follows last week's request by LRA deputy commander Okot Odhiambo, who is currently negotiating the terms of a surrender.

If true, the defection and surrender of these commanders would leave Kony largely isolated, yet still with the bulk of his army in the DRC, said to be some 600 or 700 men.

The surrender of both these men would be a huge success for the Ugandan army and theoretically for the international community since both are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"Dominic Ongwen is here with me, we are together," Odhiambo told AFP by phone from his jungle hide-out, adding they had 120 LRA fighters with them.

Meanwhile, word continues to trickle out about the possible surrender of the deputy commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, Okot Odhiambo.

According to the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala, the Ugandan army commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brig. Gen. Patrick Kankiriho, has given Odhiambo a map sketching out where Odhiambo and his men can surrender.

The options are several locations, or any church or the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC) outpost.

“I sent him a sketch map of areas where he can report. I told him if he cannot report in those areas where the UPDF is, he can go to any church or the UN,” Kankiriho told the Monitor.

The church suggestion is ironic since Odhiambo and his men are thought to have been behind a slaughter in a church of about 50 people in the Doruma area in December.

This communique to Odhiambo is the first hard information that the negotiations, which began last week, are still on-going with the rebel unit, said to nubmer about 85 people, including about 45 soldiers, 20 abductees and non-combatants.

"If Odhiambo responds and says he is at point A, then we will know he is serious. We will not hurt him. We can even leave our guns behind and we get UN to escort us and we meet him,” Kankiriho said.

If Odhiambo surrenders, it will be a major success for the Ugandan military strike that began Dec. 14 and sent the LRA, lead by Joseph Kony, on a killing rampage that has taken the lives of nearly 1,000 civilians in the region.

But how long the Ugandan army can or will stay in northeastern DRC? Congolese officials have set today, Friday, Feb. 6, as the deadline for Uganda's withdrawal from the region.

The deadline makes no sense, of course, given the current negotiations, but the Congo is under pressure to rid itself of foreign forces. Neighboring Rwanda currently has about 2,000 troops in the Kivu provinces of eastern DRC, who are ridding the region of the Hutu militias.

The two situation are virtually unrelated, but problematic, none-the-less.

Certainly, simple logic dictates that Uganda should continue this operation against Kony and the LRA, since in both this situation and the Kivus, the DRC is incapable of controlling or solving the problem.

But this also raises the question whether Uganda can solve the Kony problem as well. Given the botched operation that began the current mess, there are serious doubts for any permanent solution.

The question also arises as to why Kony and his army are in the DRC in the first place. Why didn't Uganda solve the Kony problem sometime during the 20 years he fought in Uganda?

What makes Uganda think it can do the job now?


Don said...

I'm wondering who supports Kony. Can he really survive without any base in a population? If he has no base, how come Uganda, the Congo, and Rwanda can't stop him?

Don the libertarian Democrat

Mjay said...

Just read reviews on your book "FIRST KILL YOUR FAMILY", it seems to be quite a read. Hope I can order it someday.
These updates and the intricate di-section of what is going on in the north is enlightening and disheartening all at once.
Reminds me of the efforts a close friend - Betty Bigombe placed into this war and somehow things back fired.