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Operation Iron Fist will bring down Kony

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th July 2002 03:00 AM

ON Monday, a group of what described itself as “Acholi MPs,” led by Reagan Okumu convened a press conference at parliament to roundly condemn the UPDF “Operation Iron Fist,” against rebel Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as a “fail

ON Monday, a group of what described itself as “Acholi MPs,” led by Reagan Okumu convened a press conference at parliament to roundly condemn the UPDF “Operation Iron Fist,” against rebel Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as a “failure”. While much of the criticisms were not new, Okumu’s team provided no new alternatives to bring a stop to the senseless carnage spread by the LRA through the strategy of Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) in parts of northern Uganda. For obvious reasons serving self interests, they could not acknowledge the improved security situation there however modest since 1997 when the LRA killed and abducted civilians in their hundreds. It ought to be appreciated the big cache of arms captured by the UPDF from the LRA can no longer be used with ease against the people. Also, under “Operation Iron Fist,” for the first time the Sudan government publicly accepted that it had been behind this LIC by offering sanctuary and arms to the LRA, thereby removing shadows as to the source of LRA strength and impunity! Although their facts about home guards being sent to Sudan are contorted, their cries that this has left the internally displaced persons un-protected betrayed their previous allegations and opposition against the policy of camp settlements, and UPDF role. But for the MPs to conclude on an operation that is still going on as a “failure,” is gross analytical shame. It would be interesting for the MPs, to cite a single human endeavour that has been accomplished without some level of setbacks. While they denounce the military approach, “Acholi MPs,” are often quick to suggest “talks” as a panacea for lasting stability. Their call for “cease fire,” is not backed by factual evidence that the LRA, which behaves with impunity to common decency, is interested in peace, unless of course the MPs are its new propaganda conduit. The public ought to remember the much hyped Ka Choke Madit, (big meeting) by Acholi leaders in London, Washington, Ottawa and Dar es Salaam to persuade Kony away from war but in vain. Also that during their just concluded recess, a team of “Acholi MPs,” traversed their region purportedly in search of peace and reconciling the local population with their rebel tormentors. Political prudence, if it exists, demands that Okumu, Norbert Mao, Zachary Olum, Michael Ocula, Jacob Olanya, Otto Odonga among others should tell Ugandans their findings on LRA’s willingness or intransigence to renounce rebellion. The call by sections of the Acholi leadership for peace talks with rebels each time the gangsters appear cornered is an old trick known to government. It seems the calls for talks are co-ordinated efforts to give rebels room to rest, regroup, recruit, re-arm and plan ahead for fresh offensive against the population or mutate to a new rebel organisation. With hindsight, the negotiation and peace accord of 1988 brought out Angelo Okello, Otema Allimadi and Charles Alai but allowed their former group, the UPDA to mutate into the Holy Spirit Movement of rebel priestess Alice Lakwena. And when Lakwena faced defeat, new calls for negotiation came in which led to the emergence of the Uganda Peoples’ Army (UPA) of Peter Otai wrecking havoc in Lango and Teso region. Simultaneously as negotiations went on, and UPA leaders surrendered, it gave enough time to Kony to raise his LRA, which has remained a menace to this day. But regardless of this ‘advice’ to talk peace with various outlaws, the UPDF and government, resilience, as well as a pragmatic military approach ensured the defeat of rogue groups. To claim that the operation has failed merely because rebels can still kill or Joseph Kony has not been capture is to miss the strategic objective of the on-going military, intelligence and security operation. Primarily, it is not necessary for the UPDF to capture or kill opponents in order to defeat them. Otai, Aggrey Awori, Allimadi, Yusuf Kabanda and Lakwena were never captured but their various rebel campaigns ended. No negotiations were held with Otai, Lakwena and Kabanda but the ground just became too hot for them. Contemporary evidence shows that the most powerful US failed to capture or kill Cuba’s Fidel Castro, only ninety miles away in a small island. Much as it has tried, it has failed to kill or captured Saddam Hussein, Muamar Gadafi, and Osama Bin Laden, all blacklisted. The former Great Britain has for the last thirty four years failed to arrest the leader of the dreaded IRA, yet in all cases the alleged threats have been managed. This UPDF strategy was inherited from the NRA, which during the bush days rightly ignored popular but false civilian pressure for a quick end to the war in favour of the protracted guerrilla warfare as the objective solution to UPC government. Records show that this how Awori’s FOBA, Kabanda’s ADF, UNRF I and II, and the West Nile Bank Front of Ali Bamuze and Juma Oris respectively were neutralised. Admitted, this operation is tough and complicated but it would be fatal to compromise it by unprincipled alliances and manoeuvres. Firmness is the reason rebels control no territory. Since 1986 government enacted and implemented the 1987 amnesty statute, 1989 presidential pardon, and the current amnesty Act, along side democratic political reforms through which adversaries can benefit and many have done so. But all said, the Government twin approach of military and talks are paying dividends, while “Acholi MPs,” and other groups are also free to convince the LRA to abandon rebellion.

Operation Iron Fist will bring down Kony

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