04 June, 2008

DR Congo to attack Ugandan rebels


DR Congo to attack Ugandan rebels

The Congolese army has agreed to take military action against Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army.

The decision comes after the LRA leader Joseph Kony failed to sign a peace agreement with the Ugandan government.

He has been hiding in eastern DR Congo throughout recent peace talks, fearing he would be arrested for war crimes.

A final peace deal was reached in March after almost two years of talks, but Mr Kony failed to turn up on several occasions to sign it.

The chiefs of defence forces in Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the UN Mission in Congo, Monuc, have been meeting in the Ugandan capital Kampala this week to find a military solution to the problem of the LRA.

The BBC's Sarah Grainger in Kampala says their decision to allow the Congolese army to pursue the rebels on their territory, signals the end to a long period of negotiation between the LRA and the Ugandan government.

Ugandan army spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda said there was "still room for peace talks if some people can convince the world that it can work out".

"But in our view, there is room also for taking military action on this group, which has up to now persistently shown that they are not ready to sign the peace agreement," he added.

Throughout the peace talks, in the South Sudan capital Juba, Mr Kony remained in eastern DR Congo, while he and his top commanders were the subjects of arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

He is accused of numerous war crimes, including mutilating and abducting civilians and forcing thousands of children into combat.

During the peace talks, the threat of attack by the LRA rebels receded from northern Uganda and security there has improved over the last two years.

But our correspondent says there have been reports of the rebels attacking and abducting civilians in both eastern DR Congo and the Central African Republic, suggesting that the problem has been displaced, not removed.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/04 16:40:14 GMT