afrol News, 22 August - The brutal civil war in Uganda's northern provinces is noted by several recent government successes. Thousands of rebels are responding positively to a government amnesty and the Sudanese presidency is totally ceasing its support to the rebels.
Over 5,000 current and former rebels have appealed to the Ugandan Amnesty Commission to be allowed to return peacefully to their homes, the 'New Vision' reported on Monday. "We expect 2,000 from Kenya. They have written to us to have them cleared for their return," senior Commission official Hajji Ganyana Miiro was quoted as saying.
Miiro was launching the Commission's western regional headquarters in Kasese, western Uganda. A further 3,000 former combatants of the Uganda National Rescue Front currently based in Yumbe, northwestern Uganda, had asked to take advantage of the government's year-long amnesty, Miiro said. There was reportedly an additional group in Zambia, linked to former president Milton Obote, also trying to return to Uganda, he added.
The Commission is charged with implementing the amnesty, offered to all present and former rebels and opposition groups, but has been criticised by religious and human rights groups for its failure to do so effectively. Ganyana said that a lack of available resources was hindering the Commission's effectiveness, the 'New Vision' reported.
At the same time, Sudanese President Omar el Bashir has announced a total withdrawal of his government's support to Ugandan rebels led by Joseph Kony, the 'New Vision' reported on Tuesday. Sudan has been the key foreign support of the brutal rebel forces, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), and weapons have been smuggled over the Sudanese border.
According to Bashir, visiting Uganda, "the Ugandan and Sudanese governments have reached an agreement regarding the LRA presence in the Sudan. The LRA no longer exists in the form it used to be. We are proceeding towards a new era based on the fact that the Sudan is not supporting any opposition group in the region."
He admitted that his government supported Kony in retaliation for Uganda's alleged support to the southern Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). "We have no access and control over Joseph Kony," said Bashir, claiming the LRA even had started conducting operations against the Sudanese government.
The Sudanese-Ugandan relationship has gradually improved since the signing of the 1999 Nairobi peace accord, which entailed cessation of assistance for each other's rebel groups, exchanges of diplomats and the return of children abducted by the LRA from northern Uganda. Ugandan President Museveni is to visit Khartoum and reopen the Ugandan embassy there later this year.
The Ugandan LRA rebels reportedly have had little success in the battlefield since the Nairobi peace. Its brutal abduction of children to serve as soldiers cost it worldwide condemnation and general support for Museveni's government. The unsuccessful operations of Kony's LRA and his lack of external support is believed to be the main reason behind the widespread wish among his rebel to make use of the government amnesty.