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Envoys welcome operation

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th December 2008 03:00 AM

Opposition leader in Parliament Prof. Ogenga Latigo has welcomed the attack on LRA bases in Garamba, arguing that the peace talks had reached a stalemate.

Opposition leader in Parliament Prof. Ogenga Latigo has welcomed the attack on LRA bases in Garamba, arguing that the peace talks had reached a stalemate.

By Cyprian Musoke, madinah Tebajjukira and Jeff Lule

Opposition leader in Parliament Prof. Ogenga Latigo has welcomed the attack on LRA bases in Garamba, arguing that the peace talks had reached a stalemate.

LRA leader Joseph Kony, Latigo said, had become comfortable in his hideout, and refused to sign the final peace deal which had been reached painstakingly.

“The military could also have become comfortable since Kony was not in Uganda, in which case I didn’t see any prospects of finalising the peace process,” Ogenga Latigo said. “How else would the status quo have been dismantled?”

However, Latigo feared Kony might unleash terror and abduct innocent people in the West Equatoria region, which borders the Garamba jungles.

Addressing the FDC weekly briefing at Najjanankumbi, spokesman Wafula Oguttu seemed to contradict Latigo, saying the attack was unconstitutional because it was not sanctioned by Parliament.

“We are disappointed with our President. This is a country which has a constitution to follow and which he promised to follow,” he said.

Agreeing with Latigo, British High Commission information officer John Hamilton said the LRA had become a serious military threat, which only regional military cooperation could address.

Kony and top commanders are wanted at the World Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hamilton said there should be no impunity on war crimes and the operation should follow international law.

The US-based Human Rights Watch, too, welcomed the attack. “It is vital that LRA leaders wanted for heinous abuses against civilians are apprehended and face trial,” Elise Keppler, a senior counsel, said.

However, she added, effort to arrest the individuals should minimise the risk to civilians and avoid excessive force.

Lira Municipality MP James Akena (UPC) castigated the attack, saying the majority of the people in the bush were women and children.

“These are victims of two crimes,” he said. “We failed to protect them in their homes which led to their abduction. Now we are bombing them.”

Foundation for Human Rights Initiative chief Livingstone Ssewanyana said if all options had failed, and the rebels were unwilling to sign the peace agreement, the states in the region had the duty to protect their people.

However, Kitgum MP Beatrice Anywar said the Government had always wanted the military option. “The Government’s deadlines were provocative and made the LRA think that the peace agreement was not in good faith.

She also said the Government had not looked at the impact of fresh fighting and Kitgum residents had began to return to the camps.

“In whose interest did Museveni and his government take the military option?” she asked.

Isha Otto Amiza (Oyam South) said it was illogical for UPDF to resume fighting after failing to defeat Kony militarily for 20 years. “Peaceful means would bring lasting solutions,” he said.

Dokolo MP Felix Okot Ogong said he supported a peaceful settlement of the war. “Resumption of the war means resumption of suffering of the people in the north. I appeal to the Government and Kony to stick to peace negotiations.”

Aswa MP Reagan Okumu said dialogue was better so as to rescue abducted children held by Kony. Resuming fighting, he added, means killing innocent children.

“I wonder whether it’s a rescue mission or an offensive,” he asked. “If it’s an offensive, the Government lacks the moral authority to attack children it failed to protect and rescue.”

Piro Santos (East Moyo) said it was important for the Government to protect Uganda’s territorial integrity. “The Government is executing this mandate. Nevertheless, it should continue pursuing peaceful means.”

Envoys welcome operation

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