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Vol 44 No 24

Published 5th December 2003


Military muscle, political problems

The government's failure to end the LRA's brutal campaign points to a growing national crisis

After 18 years of the Lord's Resistance Army's murderous attacks on civilians, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni declares on 14 November that the LRA is 'nearly finished' ­ then the LRA launches another round of attacks to prove him wrong. The President, who has stationed himself in northern Uganda to lead the military campaign against the LRA, had been encouraged by the reported death of LRA commander General Charles Tabuley. Museveni had declared that LRA leader Joseph Kony's 'incursion into Teso region has been defeated' (AC Vol 44 No 19). Within three days, the LRA was launching a fresh attack on Lira district, north-west of Teso, bludgeoning twelve civilians to death and displacing tens of thousands of local people. For the 34 members of parliament who represent the northern and eastern constituencies, this was the final straw. Led by Nwoya MP Zachary Olum and Oyen MP Okullo Epak, they walked out of parliament on 18 November, to protest at what they see as the government's failure to protect its people. What especially triggered their fury was that the attacks happened only some six kilometres from the nearest army post and so might have been repulsed if not entirely prevented. This follows a warning by Museveni that he personally would arrest anyone criticising the government army. A former army captain and now MP, Charles Byanruhanga, had criticised Museveni for creating the impression that the Uganda Peoples' Defence Force was his personal army.

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