Uganda rebels claim the group is not split

A Ugandan rebel spokesman has denied to the BBC reports of a major split within the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

His comments come as the UN says a senior northern Ugandan rebel commander has surrendered to authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The LRA’s Opiyo Makasi is being held by Congolese police and may be handed over to the UN, a UN spokesman said.

The LRA has a base in DR Congo and has been attending peace talks in south Sudan after a 20 year insurgency.

Some two million people have been displaced in the conflict in northern Uganda and thousands of others have been killed.

Last year, LRA leaders signed a truce with the Ugandan government during the peace talks being held in south Sudan’s capital, Juba.

A spokesman for the UN mission in DR Congo (Monuc) said the LRA commander surrendered to authorities in the north-east where he is being held.

“There was a request from Monuc that he is handed over for disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration but there has been no response so far from the Congolese,” Kemal Saiki told Reuters news agency.

Media reports in Uganda have claimed that LRA leader Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti clashed at their hideout in Garamba National park in DR Congo.

But LRA spokesman Godfrey Ayoo dismissed the reports as “government propaganda” aimed at denting the movement’s image ahead of the group’s planned visit in northern Uganda.

“The movement is solid,” Mr Ayoo told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

He explained that Mr Otti had changed his telephone number.

“Those who have been intercepting Mr Otti’s phone are not finding him and they are now using the vacuum to claim there is a split,” he said.

The LRA spokesman said the group are about to announce plans to hold consultations with northern Ugandan civil society leaders and those people living in displacement camps.

Claims of the division were a government ploy to derail their mission, he said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday October 24, 2007.
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