President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday said the army will resume all-out war on rebels in northern Uganda, charging that the insurgents rejected a cease-fire deal that had been expected to open the way for political talks on ending the 18-year civil war.
The government, however, will continue negotiating with the rebels in an effort to find a political solution to the conflict in which thousands have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes, Museveni said during New Year’s celebrations.
The Lord’s Resistance Army rebels have waged a campaign of murder, rape and abductions in northern Uganda. Led by the elusive Joseph Kony, they replenish their ranks by abducting children and forcing them to become fighters, porters or concubines.
Rebels broke the truce first early Saturday, according to a government spokesman, ambushing an army supply truck in Alero, a village 2 miles west of Gulu, injuring four soldiers. “They started operations before us, this is what they have been preparing for in the past 47 days,” said army spokesman Maj. Shaban Bantariza.
Ugandan military “operations will not cease ever again until the Kony group irreversibly commit themselves to come out of the bush,” Museveni said Saturday, after the 47-day truce expired. Museveni had declared the unilateral cease-fire in a part of northern Uganda to allow rebel commanders to discuss plans to open peace talks with the government.
But on Friday, government and rebel negotiators failed to agree on the terms of a negotiated truce. Museveni blamed the rebels for the collapse. “The combination of both the military option and dialogue will bring peace in northern Uganda,” he said.