, GULU, Uganda, Mar 17 – Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi launched on Saturday an online response to a viral campaign to arrest rebel commander Joseph Kony to counter the “false impression” that the country is in conflict.
In a video broadcast on YouTube, and in a flurry of messages posted on Twitter, Mbabazi invited 20 celebrities including Hollywood or music stars such as Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
“As PM (Prime Minister) of Uganda, I appreciate your interest and invite you to visit. We have peace, stability and great people” he wrote in a tweet to celebrities, using the #KonyisntinUganda.
The video, “Kony 2012”, by US advocacy group Invisible Children, 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,” he 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 is “not in conflict.”
Kony’s ruthless rebels were infamous for mutilating civilians and abducting children to use as soldiers and sex-slaves during their two-decade war in northern Uganda.
But they have been forced out of Uganda and since 2006 have been operating in neighbouring countries.
Jason Russell, the 33-year-old co-head of the online campaign to hunt down Kony has been hospitalised after being found semi-naked and masturbating in the street in the southern Californian city of San Diego, police and his boss said on Friday.