LRA rebels dangerous even if weakened

2012-03-14 08:57
Libreville - Lord's Resistance Army rebels in central Africa under their indicted war criminal leader Joseph Kony are still dangerous even if the group has been weakened, a UN official said on Tuesday.

"Even a small LRA is dangerous," Abou Moussa, head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, told a news conference in Libreville.

Uganda on Friday warned against misrepresenting the threat posed by the brutal rebels after an internet campaign to bring Kony to justice went viral.

The internet-based video campaign attracted more than 75 million viewers by Tuesday and the hashtag "#stopkony" about the fugitive head of the rebel group has surged on Twitter.

The 30-minute film by the California-based advocacy group Invisible Children has earned praise from celebrities, but in Uganda, its timing raised questions.

"I don't know who's behind [the anti-Kony campaign], what interests me is how to eliminate this threat," said Moussa.

Moussa recalled that anti-LRA measures were being co-ordinated since November last year when the UN Security Council discussed the case.

The LRA is active where the state has failed, said Moussa.

US President Barack Obama presented Congress in November with a plan to disarm the LRA rebels.

The strategy responds to a law Obama proposed and Congress passed six months earlier to defuse the spiralling bloodshed in central Africa, protect the civilian population and bring LRA leaders to justice.

Terror

The plan's four objectives also include promoting "the defection, disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters; and... increase humanitarian access and provide continued relief to affected communities".

Ugandan forces drove the rag-tag LRA fighters from northern Uganda in 2006 where they first took up arms two decades ago.

They have sown terror across a vast region where the borders of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic meet.

The rebels are notorious for kidnapping boys to serve as child soldiers and girls to act as sex slaves.

Kony, a semi-literate former altar boy, took charge in 1988 of a rebellion among northern Uganda's ethnic Acholi minority, to fight the Kampala government it wanted to replace by a regime based on the Biblical Ten Commandments.

Now believed to be in the Central African Republic, he is accused by the International Criminal Court of the rape, mutilation and murder of civilians as well as forcibly recruiting child soldiers.

- SAPA
Read more on:    un  |  lord's resistance army  |  joseph kony  |  uganda  |  east africa
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