Commander says his capture is big blow to Kony
Ceasar Acellam Otto, a senior commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), captured by the Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF) on Saturday has said his capture is a major blow to the LRA movement.
“It is a major blow. A big blow to Kony,” Acellam replied when asked how his absence will affect the LRA.
He explained that the rebel force has been weakened because a number of other commanders had either been killed or surrendered in response to Uganda government amnesty call.
“The size has reduced and people are no longer enjoying on hearing that Major General Acellam is out of LRA,” he said.
Acellam, who said he was a high profile and active commander of Joseph Kony’s LRA, was captured on Saturday, May12 at River Mbamu in Central African Republic (CAR) near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“We were engaged by the UPDF near Mbamu river, they got hold of me and three other people; my wife, my child and another lady from Central African Republic but she was handed over to the Central African government to be re-united with her family,” Acellam said.
Upon capture, Acellam and his wife and daughter were flown by military chopper to the UPDF base in Nzara, 20 kms from Yambio, the capital of Western Equatoria State where The New Nation interviewed him.
Acellam said capturing Kony will not be easy.
“I cannot rule out the possibility that Kony will be defeated or captured, but to get him as a man is difficult,” he said.
Asked whether Kony was still alive, Acellam answered in the affirmative.
“Oh, yes he is very alive, but only that nobody knows his whereabouts, because of late he doesn’t trust anybody, he works with what comes in his mind,” he said.
Acellam however said that he had not seen the LRA leader for three years, despite being one of his top commanders.
“The last time I was with Kony was way back in 2009 when we were in DR Congo since then I have never seen him again,” Acellam said.
He explained that it was difficult to know Kony’s whereabouts because as a rebel, he cannot say in one location.
“Today he is here, tomorrow he is there. I can’t tell exactly where he is at the moment,” Acellam said.
On the number of fighters still in the LRA ranks, Acellam said: “I cannot tell exactly, but what I know is that there are still people who are loyal to him.”
Acellam said that they have not been getting supplies from Khartoum since the Juba peace talks with the Uganda government fell through.
“You see, we used to get back-up from the Khartoum before the peace talks failed in Juba, but since then we don’t get any help from anywhere,” he said, and added that that sometimes they get weapons when they defeat the UPDF in battle.
“Not all the time that we engage each other in the front line we are the losers; sometimes we defeat the UPDF and confiscate their ammunitions,” he explained.
Acellam talked of how he lived in Juba from 1991 to 1992, and recalled how they used to attack SPLA and the UPDF.
Commenting on Acellam’s capture, the UPDF officer in charge of intelligence in the operations against the LRA in the region, Col Abdul Rugumayo said the UPDF apprehended him without a fight.
“He was armed and was with his wife, a child and another lady from Central African Republic, but he did not fire back,” Rugumayo said.
Rugumayo added that LRA threats have reduced drastically and sooner there will be no more threat from the rebel outfit.
“We have disorganized the LRA until they have resorted to feeding on wild fruits and wild animals,” Rugumayo said.
He noted that the people who were displaced by the LRA have now gone back to their places and have embarked on farming,
“I want to assure the people in this region that we came to put a final end to the LRA and we have dedicated our efforts to bringing stability to the region,” he said.
Rugumayo thanked the government of South Sudan and Western Equatoria in particular for allowing the UPDF to use their facilities and land to carry out the operations against LRA.
“We would like to tell the South Sudanese that the same way they feel anger for the atrocities committed by the LRA is the same way we feel sorry for what our brother Kony has caused in the area,” he consoled.
Rugumayo said that they have rescued about 8000 women and children from LRA over the last two years.
He thanked the American government for supporting the UPDF, saying that even “before the 100 soldiers were deployed here they had given us logistic support.”
The deployment of U.S. special forces as advisers to help Ugandan soldiers track Kony and his senior commanders in the dence equatorial jungle across a region that spans several countries has raised hopes the sadistic leader's days are numbered.
Kony has evaded the region's militaries for nearly three decades, kidnapping tens of thousands of children to fill the ranks of his Lord's Resistance Army and serve as sex slaves as he moves through the bush. Thousands have been killed by his brutal army.
Recently, the African Union set up a taskforce to arrest or kill LRA leader Joseph Kony. The force is to be based in Yambio and is comprised of troops from Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo – countries where Kony has meted out acts of terror for years.