Uganda's LRA Rebels Deny Killing 400 People in Congo
By James Butty Washington, DC 31 December 2008
Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Rebels are denying reports that they massacred over 400 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo the day after Christmas. Reports quoting survivors and witnesses say the killings took place close to Congo’s border with Sudan where the armies of the two countries and Uganda attacked LRA rebels earlier this month.
But LRA chief peace negotiator David Matsanga told VOA the killings were carried out by a special battalion of the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF).
“While I was negotiating in Juba, I told the world that there is battalion 105, a battalion of the UPDF that was composed of ex-LRA combatants who defected since 2004. They were trained to go and attack the LRA. I put this on the table. Dr. Riek Machar is a witness, and I put it to the Ugandan government that this battalion 105 is the one that is trained to go do a lot of atrocities against the people of Congo and turn it on to the LRA because they think the LRA cannot speak,” he said.
Matsanga said he has been assured by LRA leader General Joseph Kony that LRA forces were not responsible for the alleged killings.
He denied accusations by Ugandan military captain Chris Magezi who is spokesman for the joint military operation that LRA fighters used machetes and swords to carry out the killings.
“Let me tell you and the international community, Captain Chris Magezi is a young imbecile, a small boy who has just come out of university who has not seen war. He’s one of those few small officers who have put President Museveni under siege. They want a military option yet they will not finish it. For 20 years they have made declarations that they will finish the LRA,” he said.
Matsanga called on the Ugandan government to return to the peace table rather than the military option.
“I want to tell the world that Captain Magezi they have gone into Garamgba with their Rambo-style operation, they have not got any objective. The war has not produced any objective. You have not succeeded; let’s go back to the table; let’s look for a neutral place to discuss the contentious issue of the ICC (International Criminal Court). Let’s see a way to find a long lasting solution other than this fight where zillion are going to be killed by battalion 105,” Matsanga said.
He rejected suggestion that LRA leader Kony has not been heard from since the joint Congo, Uganda and Sudan military action against the LRA. Matsanga reiterated that the LRA wants peace and not war.
“I have heard from him, and I’m telling you that that I have talked to them and they telling me to tell the world that they want peace. And I am telling you to tell the world to ask President Museveni to cease fire so that this peace can come. A military solution will not finish the conflict in Congo. We only need a neutral country where we can sit together with Dr. Rugunda or whoever the Uganda government will send. We will put the proposals which General Kony has put forward and where he said he recognizes the agreement but he doesn’t recognize the chief mediator (Riek Machar of South Sudan,” Matsanga said.
He said because Sudan was involved in the December attack on LRA positions, the LRA believes Machar cannot negotiate a fair agreement.