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Former Ugandan child soldier backs viral video
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 9, 2012

A former child soldier at the heart of a viral campaign to bring accused Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony to justice said Friday he backed the video and urged people to watch it.

"It's a hard movie," Jacob Acaye told ABC News about the 30-minute video that has garnered nearly 58 million viewers since Monday.

"It brought back some memories... I still don't know when will it end. The more time is ticking, the more people are dying. The more people are still suffering. The more people (are) being abducted."

The hashtag "#stopkony," about the fugitive head of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, has also surged on Twitter.

The White House has praised the campaign, while a string of celebrities have weighed in by tweeting links to the emotional video, "Kony2012," and promoting the initiative by California-based non-profit group Invisible Children.

In the film, Acaye -- appearing as a 13-year-old boy -- said he wants to die even though he's not with the LRA so that he could be reunited with his slain brother. At the age of 11, he was among 41 youths taken from a Ugandan village by Kony.

"No one is taking care of us," he says in the video. "We are not going to school."

Now 21, Acaye is studying to become a lawyer at Uganda's Makerere University, a wish he had described in the video.

At the time the film was shot, "I was like really, really invisible -- like real meaning of invisible children," he said. "We are like the children who are not seen. Children who are not even knowing that they are suffering."

Acaye expressed support for the video, saying it was helping make people aware of Kony and his crimes.

"If they know and they have seen and they could learn that Kony is still being the same in that movie, they can think about what to do," he said. "And they can think about what they can do."

Born in 1988 from the frustrations against the government of Uganda's marginalized Acholi ethnic group, the LRA has since dropped its national political agenda for the narrow objective of pillage and plunder.

Kony, whose movement draws on messianic beliefs and a smattering of Christian motifs, is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The rebels currently number several hundred, a fraction of their strength at their peak but still include a core of hardened fighters infamous for mutilating civilians and abducting children to act as soldiers and sex-slaves.

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Uganda warns against misrepresentation of LRA threat
Kampala (AFP) March 9, 2012 - Uganda on Friday warned against misrepresenting the threat posed by rebels there after a Internet campaign to bring indicted war criminal Joseph Kony to justice went viral.

"Uganda welcomes all campaigns which seek to raise awareness and highlight the plight of people affected by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)" rebels, the government said in a statement.

"We are grateful for renewed efforts which seek to contribute to the arrest of Joseph Kony and the elimination of the LRA from the Central African Region.

"The Government of Uganda however, would strongly urge that any awareness campaign fully takes into consideration the current realities of the situation."

An Internet-based video campaign to bring Kony to justice has attracted millions of viewers.

The hashtag "#stopkony," about the fugitive head of the rebel group, has surged on Twitter and the 30-minute video has been viewed by over 40 million people in barely three days.

The people behind the campaign however have had to defend themselves against accusations that it oversimplifies the facts.

"Misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda," said the government in Kampala.

"It must be clarified that at present the LRA is not active in any part of Uganda.

"Successfully expelled by the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces in mid-2006, the LRA has retreated to dense terrain within bordering countries in the Central African area.

"They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300." The government statement said "the threat posed by the LRA in our neighboring countries is considerably reduced and we are hopeful that it will be altogether eliminated with the help of US logistical support".

White House spokesman Jay Carney recalled that US President Barack Obama had announced in October he was sending some 100 military advisors to help Uganda and neighboring countries hunt down Kony, as part of a wider response.

The White House has praised the campaign.

A string of celebrities have also weighed, by tweeting links to the emotional video, "Kony2012," and promoting the initiative by California-based non-profit group Invisible Children.


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AU troops to replace Ethopian forces in key Somali cities
Addis Ababa (AFP) March 9, 2012
African Union troops are set to replace Ethiopian forces in two Somali cities recently taken from Shebab rebels, the AU Commissioner for the Peace and Security Council said Friday. By the end of April, over 2,500 Djiboutian, Burundian and Ugandan soldiers with the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are set to move into Beledweyne and Baidoa, where rebels were forced out by Ethiopian forces in re ... read more

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