14 former LRA rebel fighters sent from CAR

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Central African Republic (CAR)

Uganda on Saturday received 14 former fighters of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group repatriated from the Central African Republic (CAR).

The first batch of former rebels led by Maj. Gen. Ali Acaye, alias “Doctor”, together with 14 of their wives and 33 children who have been holed up in the jungles of CAR, arrived at Entebbe International Airport, 40 kilometers south of Kampala, the capital city, by a chartered flight.

The members of the rebel outfit that surrendered to armed forces of CAR and authorities in Bangui were received by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja at the Entebbe military airbase.

“I am thanking the Almighty God who has made this disarmament, demobilisation and repatriation exercise of our fellow Ugandans who had been misled to fight the peaceful government of Uganda,” said Nabbanja.

“Welcome home. My office will work with other stakeholders to help you integrate and resettle in your local communities,” she said.

“I know that you are repentant and will henceforth be law-abiding citizens and participate in developmental government programes just like those you left behind are doing,” said the prime minister.

Ali Acaye thanked President Yoweri Museveni and the government for offering the ex-combatants amnesty in the east African country.

“I am happy to be finally back home and to my country,…” said Acaye.

The repatriation exercise was facilitated by PAX, the largest peace organization in the Netherlands, and other NGOs, with support from the governments of the Netherlands and Belgium.

The LRA is a Ugandan rebel group that waged a 20-year long insurgency, killing tens of thousands of civilians, abducted over 20,000 children as soldiers, porters and sex slaves, and displaced over 1.8 million people in northern Uganda, until it was driven out of the country by the military in 2006 after failed peace talks.

The fighters fled to neighboring South Sudan and then the Democratic Republic of the Congo and CAR.

Its top leader Joseph Kony who is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity remains at large.

In May 2021, one of LRA commanders, Dominic Ongwen, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment by the same court over similar charges.

Ongwen was found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including sexual and gender-based crimes, which took place in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005.

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