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Vol 43 No 16

Published 9th August 2002


Uganda

Don't praise the lord

Kony's northern rebels expose the ruling army's faults but Operation Iron Fist fails to defeat them

If it was the last kick of a dying horse, it was a powerful one. At daybreak on 5 August, a group of Lord's Resistance Army rebels led by Joseph Kony attacked a refugee camp at Acol-Pii in northern Uganda, killed over 50 civilians and stole food, drugs and military equipment. The camp was guarded by the Ugandan People's Defence Force and administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the raid seemed designed to cause maximum political damage to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Two days previously, he had donned military fatigues and announced he would be spending the next ten days in the north to oversee the next phase of Operation Iron Fist against the LRA. For the Acholi people of northern Uganda, the main victim of Kony's attacks, Iron Fist has failed. In the previous week, the LRA had massacred more than 50 villagers in Mucwini, Kitgum, and abducted 100 children. Iron Fist started in February after Museveni made an extraordinary deal with Sudan's Lieutenant General Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir. The UPDF gained the right to hot pursuit of the LRA into Sudan, while Uganda promised to end military support for John Garang de Mabior's Sudan People's Liberation Army. The National Islamic Front regime has quartered and supplied Kony's rebels from their inception, in retaliation for Uganda's long-standing support for the SPLA (AC Vol 43 No 9).

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