OCTOBER 15, 2009: Kinshasa Denies LRA Attacks

Kinshasa Denies LRA Attacks

SOURCE: Voice of America (VOA)
By Peter Clottey

The Democratic Republic of Congo government says it is unaware of purported attacks by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), which have forced hundreds of thousands of Congolese to flee.

Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) reported Wednesday that the rebel group has stepped up attacks and raided villages in northern Uganda.

The MSF also claimed the rebel insurgency is making it difficult for their aircraft to deliver much needed supplies to the displaced Congolese.

But Kinshasa denied the presence of the LRA, saying the violence rather is happening in neighboring Central African Republic.

Congo's Information Minister Lambert Mende said that Medecins Sans Frontiers had the geography of its report wrong.

"I think there is a bit of a confusion. We are well aware that there are some combatant operations near our border with those terrorists of LRA, but in Central African Republic... Things are happening in the south of the Central African Republic. So people are escaping from Central African Republic (CAR), and a few peasants from some villages in the northern part of our country," Mende said.

He also denied a section of the report that suggests that hundreds of thousands of Congolese have been forced to flee.

"We can't confirm the figure of hundreds of thousands. This really we have not yet got," he said.

Mende said Kinshasa is working with Bangui to resolve the rebel insurgency there.

"We are cooperating with our neighbors of Central African Republic (and) our army is giving them full information. And we are helping them to crush those people," Mende said.

He said denounced suggestions that a regional effort to end LRA insurgencies has failed.

"It is not true to say that because it is thanks to this regional effort that we have succeeded in sending them (LRA) out of our country. That is why they escaped, and they are trying to bring chaos in the Central African Republic," he said.

Mende said a new agreement between Kinshasa and Bangui could help deal with the LRA insurgency in the CAR.

"We have signed a new agreement with the Central African Republic the same that we did with Uganda and south Sudan to finish those criminals," Mende said.

He said the rebels are retreating.

"I think they are finishing. You know, they are running, trying to hit some villages and then run, and we are after them. When they go to the Central African Republic, we are (chasing after) them, and now Central African Republic is pushing them. And I think we shall make them disappear. It is a matter of weeks, I think," he said...

For the full story, please see: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/KHII-7WU7HG?OpenDocument