By Frank Mugabi
in Yei, Sudan
The LRA rebel deputy chief, Vincent Otti, has fled the Garamba jungles of Congo to the Ariwara hills as over 200 Congolese soldiers deployed to forcefully disarm his troops.
Military sources in the southern Sudanese town of Yei said Otti fled northward and on Tuesday morning settled on the Congo side of the border with Sudan in the hills at Kirkwa, about 32km from Yei.
The rebels were reportedly moving northward to avoid the heavy deployment of a joint SPLA and UPDF force on the Yei-Juba road and were probably planning to cross north of Juba back to their former bases in Sudan.
Otti and about 400 of his fighters left their 20-year-old bases in southern Sudan for Garamba National Park on September 13.
They had to leave their new haven following enormous pressure from the Congolese government, the UN mission in Congo (MONUC) and the international community to surrender or face a forceful disarmament.
The DRC government that had ordered foreign militias to leave the country by last Friday, had by Wednesday airlifted 300 soldiers to Aba and another 200 were travelling by road to deal with the LRA rebels who had refused to surrender or leave.
The LRA had instead asked Congo to grant them a front to continue waging war against Uganda. The request was turned down.
Uganda has already massed hundreds of soldiers on the border and teamed with the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) in Sudan to fight the LRA.
Uganda has also threatened to send its army into Congo if the rebels were not disarmed.
The commissioner of police for Yei River county, Lt. Col. Yoasa Lujang Kamba, said they had deployed SPLA forces to prevent the rebels from re-entering Sudan.
Lujang was briefing Arua resident district commissioner Alfred Omony Ogaba and Koboko LC5 chairman Francis Dramuke, who were in Yei for a security meeting.
The three-hour meeting, also attended by Yei executive director and acting commissioner Aggrey Cyrus Kanyikwa, focused on the movement of LRA rebels.
Lujang said though the rebels were close to the border, the UPDF and SPLA had not attacked them because Congo would regard it as an offensive against it.
â€œWe have also advised civilians around there, most of whom have guns, to defend themselves in case of any attack as the army is mobilised.â€ Lujang said.
Lujang told Ogaba that the rebels were paying US$500 to anyone who showed them the way. He said they also had bundles of Uganda shillings.