|Joseph Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity but he remains at large [AP]|
Amama Mbabazi, the Ugandan prime minister, has launched an online response to a video by a California-based non-profit organisation calling for the arrest of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The response, launched on Saturday and posted on YouTube, seeks to correct the “false impression” that Uganda is in conflict.
In the eight-minute video, and in a flurry of messages posted on the micro-blogging site Twitter, Mbabazi invited 20 celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
“As [Prime Minister] of Uganda, I appreciate your interest and invite you to visit. We have peace,stability and great people,” he wrote in a Twitter message to celebrities, using the #KonyisntinUganda.
The video, “Kony 2012”, by Invisible Children, an advocacy group in San Diego, has been viewed by over 80 million people worldwide since it was released online last week, with a string of celebrities tweeting links to the emotional film.
“It is particularly welcome to see so many young people uniting across barriers of nation, race, religion and culture to take a stand for justice. I salute you and I thank you,” Mbabazi said in the video.
“I extend the invitation not just to the 20 celebrities, but to you all – come and see Uganda for yourself – you will find a very different place to that portrayed by Invisible Children,” he added.
Mbabazi, speaking to the camera in the simple broadcast filmed at his office desk, said he wanted to correct the “well intentioned” video, pointing out that “Joseph Kony is not in Uganda”, and that the country was “not in conflict”.
Kony’s rebel army has been accused of mutilating civilians and abducting children to use as soldiers and sex-slaves during its two-decade war in northern Uganda.
Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court along with four of his senior commanders for crimes against humanity, but he remains at large and is thought to be leading a rag-tag army of no more than 250 people.
The LRA has been forced out of Uganda and since 2006 has been operating in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Meanwhile, Jason Russell, the 33-year-old co-head of the online campaign to hunt down Kony has been hospitalised after being found semi-naked in the street in the southern Californian city of San Diego, police and his employer said on Friday.