The Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese, John Baptist Odama, says it would be ideal for the Ugandan government to dialogue with the Allied Democratic Forces- ADF rebels rather than deploy troops to engage in war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Archbishop Odama says the deployment is a clear sign of disunity that still exists among the leaders in the region who choose guns over dialogue.
Last month, UPDF soldiers launched air and artillery raids against key Allied Democratic Forces-ADF bases in the Eastern DRC in an operation dubbed “Operation Shujaa”. Uganda accuses the ADF rebels of masterminding the recent suicide bombings in the country.
While delivering his Christmas homily at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Gulu City, Odama said war unlike dialogue has a lot of consequences with the majority of victims being innocent children and women.
The Archbishop noted that enough evidence can be traced from the two-decade war that took place in Northern Uganda, where the majority of the victims were young women and children.
More than 100,000 people were killed and tens of thousands of children conscripted by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Northern Uganda between the early 1990s and late 2000s. Odama also condemned the terror acts that rocked Kampala city, a month ago claiming the lives of three people and leaving several others nursing injuries.
He used the occasion to ask Christians to use the birth of Christ as a new beginning for humanity to promote love instead of hatred. The Northern Uganda Diocese Bishop, Rev. Godfrey Loum in an early interview with Uganda Radio Network appealed to the UPDF leadership not to deviate from their mission of hunting the ADF rebels in DRC.
UPDF first invaded DRC between 1998 and 2003 in what the President then described as a move aimed at protecting Uganda’s territorial integrity from invasion by Kabila forces and denying habitation to Uganda’s dissidents, such as the ADF in the Congo. The DRC government however later accused Ugandan forces of looting, committing murders, and violating its International Sovereignty during their five years of military occupation.
In December 2005, the international court of justice, the United Nations highest judicial body ruled that Uganda’s 1998-2003 intervention violated international sovereignty and led to the killing and torture of civilians and the destruction of villages. The DRC government is demanding $13 billion from Uganda in reparations.