Mao Steps Up Call For LRA Defections In CAR


page sans-serif; line-height: 200%; font-size: small;”>Michael Mubangizi, this site Regional Public Relations and Advocacy Officer Invisible Children, has revealed that 10 religious, cultural and opinion leaders from northern Uganda early this week travelled to areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) with a view of encouraging more LRA defections and also to receive any other LRA members who might wish to surrender peacefully.

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“The visit comes on the heels of reports that more people within the LRA wish to defect but need assurances of safety upon surrendering and procedures on how to peacefully surrender,” Mubangizi noted.

He added: “Their visit is part of activities planned under Invisible Children’s Come Home campaign that – among other activities – develops and disseminates defection (come home) messages to LRA members in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan (SS), and Central African Republic (CAR) to increase defections while taking advantage of the festive tradition in northern Uganda around Christmas as an inspiration to encourage LRA members to surrender during the Christmas season,” Mubangizi said.

Jolly Grace O. Andruville, the Invisible Children Regional Ambassador, says during this visit, the leaders will show solidarity with communities that remain vulnerable to LRA atrocities in DRC and CAR.

“Some communities currently targeted by the LRA violence in neighbouring countries perceive Ugandan society as indifferent to their suffering. As a result, they have associated Ugandans at large with the LRA as co-perpetrators of the heinous atrocities inflicted upon their communities.”

“We hope this visit will demystify such false beliefs and reassure the affected communities that the LRA wasn’t sent to their countries by Ugandans. It’s also part of our continuous engagement until the LRA crisis is finally resolved,” Andruville said.

“We also believe that some LRA may want to surrender but fear, so hearing that leaders in northern Uganda are there, would reassure them to come out.”

Mubangizi on the other hand observed that the group left for CAR on Tuesday and today (Wednesday) morning which include among others; His Highness Onen David Rwot Achana (Paramount chief of Acholi,) Hon. Norbert Mao [Former Gulu district Chairman and Gulu Municipality MP and currently the Democratic Party president (DP)], Sheik Musa Khelil (Vice Chairperson Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative and Acholi sub-region Khadi), Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola 11 (Retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese and founding member of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative).

Others are Hon. Reagan Okumu (Chairman Acholi Parliamentary Group and Aswa County MP), Hon. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi (Chairman, Gulu District Local Government) and Hon. Santa Okot (Former Pader Woman MP and member of Presidential delegation during the previous talks with LRA.).

The visit also follows a recent defection of 19 people from LRA earlier this month who included male soldiers as well as adult females and six children.

On November 20, 2013, Invisible Children launched the Come Home Campaign with a presentation of a petition signed by 4,209 formerly abducted children and people affected by the LRA conflict in Uganda, DRC and CAR to Parliament seeking its intervention in advocating to regional governments and the international community to permanently end the LRA conflict.

This petition was received by the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, who promised to arrange for a special parliamentary session to debate the LRA conflict.

That same day, Invisible Children also held a Come Home for Christmas launch attended by LRA formerly abducted persons during which defection messages from former abductees were recorded and disseminated to encourage more LRA defections.

On December 6, 2013, 19 people defected from LRA captivity in a place called Zemio, in CAR.

Preliminary interviews with key members of the defectors indicate that Come Home messaging, through defection fliers and radio, may have played a significant role in influencing their decisions to defect.


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