Monday, November 24, 2003

Uganda: anti-LRA community militia

Musa Ecweru, a member of parliament, has helped build a community-based milita group to counter the Lord's Resistance Army. And it appears to be working.
His men crushed an attempt by the LRA in June this year to expand its operations to Teso, Ecweru's home, after analysing what he calls the LRA's tactics of creating ''terror corridors.''

''The LRA has survived by maximum brutality which creates terror. This displaces people and creates a vacuum or corridor where they can roam at will,'' he said.

Ecweru says he has succeeded because he recruited scouts from the community who, unlike army troops, actually speak the local language [Acholi]. Another factor was that the [Teso] community, never having been beaten into despair by the LRA, retained a strong will to survive and strongly backed his so-called ''Arrow'' force [by providing intelligence etc...].
[all inserts between brackets are mine]

And the militia group has the support of the government ... its members are paid by the government.

About a week back, President Museveni ordered that the Arrow Group in Teso and the Amuka Group in Lango, be paid Shs 1.5 billion in back pay. But this partnership is not without its critics.
The payment of militia fighters has been a contentious issue. Some people claimed that militia commanders had misappropriated about Shs 2 billion released to facilitate operations.

Ecweru said the proposed payment has excited militia fighters, each of whom earns Shs 60,000 monthly.
So how many milita fighters are there?

My guess (based on some basic math) ... Shs 1.5 billion in back pay, Shs 60,000 monthly salary, and the pay being 3 months in arrears ... there are about 8,400 militia members.

Note this is a rough guess cause there are a few other militia groups and I'm not sure if they figure into this back pay scheme. Also, the Arrow Group by itself has about 7,000 members ... sooo ... let me know if you figure it out.

One more thing ... a few weeks back, there was a report that 'Brigadier' Charles Tabuley, the LRA's second in command, had been killed by government forces during fighting in the Teso region. However ...
Eresu said he saw Tabuley being killed. He said there's no way Tabuley could be alive. Tabuley was reportedly killed in an ambush on October 29. However, one Isaac Ochola who escaped from rebel captivity told The Monitor that Tabuley was not killed. (link)