Who Supplied the Missiles to the LRA?

By Scott A Morgan

Around Christmas Day the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels (LRA) used an anti-aircraft missile to shoot down a Ugandan aircraft.

The question now becomes: how did the LRA get their hands on these weapons? There are two possible answers. First of all is that these are leftovers from US aid to the Mobutu regime that ruled Congo for 32 years until 1997. Its possible that they still remain but they more than likely were used during the Congolese wars of the late 1990s.

The most logical answer is that the weapons were provided by Sudan. For a long time, Sudanese intelligence supported the LRA by providing arms and logistical support. This was a tactic used to keep prying eyes from seeing what has been occurring in Darfur.

For people struggling to survive in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Uganda the events of the last month is a microcosm of the last couple of decades.

The area is rife with militia activity. Some of the lowlights include the use of rape as a tactic of punishment and children being forcibly recruited to take an active role in fighting. In extreme cases people get murdered in church. Sadly it seems that such are a daily occurrence.

But there are differences as well. The United Nations has seen it fit to send peacekeepers to the strife-ridden Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In contrast, the long suffering Acholi tribe in northern Uganda has had to fend for itself against a ruthless militia and a Government that has proven to be just as ruthless.

At the end of November, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – which just happens to be the main insurgent group active in Uganda – walked away from Peace Talks that were taking place in Southern Sudan. Depending on who you talk, to the reason for the talks breaking down are due to a threat against the life of the leader of the LRA or the fact that they have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

When LRA walked away from the peace talks in November, they were warned that they risked being attacked. In a bold move the rebels called what they perceived to be a bluff. It was a serious tactical error in judgement. Within a fortnight the militaries of Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan launched an attack designed to bring the LRA back to the table.

So there were a series of strikes and reprisals. The main base of the LRA was attacked and reportedly leveled by an air strike by the Ugandan Air Force. The LRA went on a rampage attacking villages and killing 500 people.

The possession of anti-aircraft missiles by the LRA is potentially troubling. If it is proven that Sudan provided these missiles then tensions will once again rise in the region.

And that is not what the African Great Lakes need right now.

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One Response

  1. The death and destruction that resulted out of the poorly planned anti-LRA offensive is heart breaking. You are right – the Great Lakes deserve a break. Now.

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