A senior commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the northern Ugandan rebel group, has surrendered in the northeast of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations peacekeeping mission to that country reported today.
Patrick Opiyo Mayasi and his wife gave themselves up, along with their weapons and ammunitions, to Congolese border police earlier this month and have been transferred to the DRC capital, Kinshasa.
No known criminal charges are pending against Mr. Makasi, who is believed to be operations and logistics commander of the LRA.
The mission, known as MONUC, said it expects Mr. Makasi will be handed over to UN peacekeepers for his reintegration into the disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion programme in the DRC – and possibly for eventual repatriation to Uganda as well.
The LRA, which has fought a civil war with the Ugandan Government since the mid-1980s, became notorious during the conflict 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.
Last year, the Government and the LRA agreed to a cessation of hostilities, but Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate earlier this month that the rebels were failing to meet any of their commitments under the cessation deal.
Many LRA fighters have been camped in Garamba National Park in the far northeast of the DRC, rather than assembling in Ri-Kwangba, southern Sudan, as previously agreed.