At UN debate, Uganda calls for stepped-up pressure on northern rebels

At UN debate, Uganda calls for stepped-up pressure on northern rebels

Warning that peace talks “cannot go on forever,” Uganda’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today that the international community must step up the pressure on the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to meet its commitments under an agreement aimed at ending hostilities in the long-running civil war in the country’s north.

Warning that peace talks “cannot go on forever,” Uganda’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today that the international community must step up the pressure on the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to meet its commitments under an agreement aimed at ending hostilities in the long-running civil war in the country’s north.

Sam K. Kutesa told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, that the LRA has not met any of the terms of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities that it signed with the Ugandan Government in August 2006.

“For example, it is stipulated that LRA forces assemble at Ri-Kwangba in southern Sudan,” Mr. Kutesa said. “They have, however, not done this. They are still camped in Garamba National Park in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo].”

The Foreign Minister said the international community must pressure the LRA to assemble at Ri-Kwangba and to put a time frame on the peace talks.

“As we inch towards a comprehensive peace agreement, international support and understanding is required to balance the need for durable peace and stability on one hand and the imperative for justice on the other.”

The conflict between the Government and the LRA, which has raged since the mid-1980s, has killed more than 100,000 people and forced 2 million others to flee their homes.

The LRA has also become notorious for abducting as many as 25,000 children and using them as fighters and porters. The children were often subject to extreme violence shortly after abduction, with many girls allocated to officers in a form of institutional rape.

In October 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever arrest warrants against five senior members of the LRA: the leader Joseph Kony, and commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya.

In his address today, Mr. Kutesa also called on the Security Council to reinforce the mandate and resources of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to enable it to work more effectively with the Congolese national armed forces “to totally eradicate the threat of negative forces operating on the DRC territory.”