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The East African : November 25th 2013
The EastAfrican NEWS NOVEMBER 23-29,2013 11 They’ve not communicated. We are aware they are trying to initiate contact, and we encourage it. The contact is probably with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because that’s how they usually communicate... we haven’t heard anything.” Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, UPDF commander Kony was willing to surrender, but Mr Oryem questioned his demands, which he described as “not clear”. “Our source at the UN in- formed us that they want food, clothing and medicine. We thought that the group that spoke to the CAR government might not be LRA but a credible NGO in Bangui confirmed that it was LRA. So, we are still monitoring to see how this develops, and to see if our source [Mr Madeira and Abou Moussa, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Central Africa] can confirm this.” By press time, Mr Madeira had not responded to our questions on the nature of contact or which groups he had spoken to in the LRA camp over their leader’s surrender. Besides internally displacing DISPLACEMENT, ATTACKS Besides internally displacing thousands in DRC and CAR lately, at the peak of its devastation, the Kony-led LRA’s war had displaced up to 1.8 million people who lived in squalid internally displaced people’s camps in northern Uganda between 1994 and 2004. Even in the IDP camps that were guarded by UPDF, the population in northern Uganda was insecure and often suffered vicious attacks by LRA — the most poignant of which were the Atiak and Bar Lonyo massacres. About 300 people were killed and many more abducted at Atiak in 1995, while another 200 were either hacked or burnt to death at Bar Lonyo in 2004. this year, his capture has eluded governments around the Great Lakes region and remains a headache for the regional task force, to the chagrin of the International Criminal Court that in 2005 indicted the rebel leader along with four of his top commanders — Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Raska Lukwiya and Dominic Ongwen (Otti and Lukwiya have since died) — for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Army and intelligence officials in Kampala also say no official contact has been made, but they are also picking up the vibes of what broke out on Wednesday. Until AU Special Envoy on LRA Francisco Madeira says he has had contact with Kony, the surrender offer must be regarded as a gimmick by Kony or the small group that is in contact with CAR govt to buy more time as they strive to reinvent themselves. “They’ve not communicated. We are aware they are trying to initiate contact, and we encourage it. The contact is probably with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because that’s how they usually communicate... we haven’t heard anything,” said Uganda People’s Defence Forces commander Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda. Junior Minister for Foreign LRA leader Joseph Kony. Pic: File Affairs Henry Okello Oryem told The EastAfrican that sources at AU and UN had told Kampala that the LRA group that met the CAR government said that thousands in DRC and CAR lately, at the peak of its devastation, the Kony-led LRA’s war had displaced up to 1.8 million people who lived in squalid internally displaced people’s camps in northern Uganda between 1994 and 2004. Even in the IDP camps that were guarded by UPDF, the population in northern Uganda was insecure and often suffered vicious attacks by LRA — the most poignant of which were the Atiak and Bar Lonyo massacres. About 300 people were killed and many more abducted at Atiak in 1995, while another 200 were either hacked or burnt to death at Bar Lonyo in 2004. Talk of surrender by the ICC- indicted Kony also opens another debate; Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who referred the LRA situation to the ICC, has lately been vocally critical of the court, which derives its power from the Rome Statute. President Museveni says the ICC goes after African leaders based on “biased and shallow analysis.” On the one hand, having Kony at The Hague would be a moral, political and above all a military victory for the Ugandan leader who has always promised to capture or kill Kony, yet it does not bode well for his newfound alliances with African leaders like Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Sudan’s Omar Bashir who take issue with the Rome Statute. LRA fighters emerge from a bush for a meeting in 2006. Pic: File The wanted man who escapes ‘just in time’ By BENON HERBERT OLUKA The EastAfrican The last time the Ugandan army tried to engage Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) warlord Joseph Kony in a decisive battle in the Garamba forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the elusive rebel fighter is said to have just escaped, leaving senior commanders of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to pose for pictures with jerricans, cups, saucepans and other household items they “captured” from Kony’s base. During the nearly 30 years that Kony has fought against the government of President Yoweri Museveni, he has mastered the art of escaping just in time. In that time, all that UPDF has managed to “arrest” is an assortment of personal and household items, including a guitar and a Kaunda suit. In fact, Kony has been so adept at eluding his adversaries that he created a legend among his followers of a man who receives messages from spirits about when the enemy is about to strike. Besides keeping his mili- tary adversaries at bay for the past three decades, Kony has eluded International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments for eight years. He has also eluded a multinational African Union military force propped up by 100 American Special Forces commandos. The United States, which has labelled Kony a global terrorist, has placed a $5 million bounty on Kony’s head. Born in 1961 in Odek village in northern Uganda, Kony came into prominence as LRA leader in the late 1980s, when the former altar boy inherited the fighters of his aunt Alice Auma Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Movement, which was facing defeat at the hands of the Museveniled National Resistance Army. Kony said his group, which followed a strict Christian doctrine, was fighting so that he could govern Uganda according to the 10 commandments. While he preached leader- ship by the word of God, Kony sowed enough terror in north- ern Uganda to scare the devil. The LRA masterminded massacres of people in the Acholi region, accusing them of supporting the government. He abducted young men to replenish his fighting force and young women to serve as sex slaves for his fighters. According to the United Nations — whose Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Jan Egeland, described the war in northern Uganda as “the world’s worst forgotten humanitarian crises” — the LRA abducted more than 30,000 children during the more than two decades it was active in northern Uganda. Additionally, the LRA war caused the displacement of more than 2 million people, many of whom are now resettled in their homes, if not fully rehabilitated. In 2005, the Uganda gov- ernment agreed to hold peace talks with the LRA in Juba. However, Kony refused to turn up for the signing ceremony, saying he would only do so if the ICC rescinded the arrest warrants against him and his top commanders. Since then, Kony has lived as a fugitive in the Democratic Republic of Congo, parts of South Sudan and the Central African Republic, where he continues to use the same brutal tactics that earned him notoriety in northern Uganda. A 2012 effort by the US organisation Invisible Children to inform the world of the atrocities committed by Kony earned him worldwide recognition and compelled the US to join a manhunt for one of Africa’s most savage killers. However, like the proverbial cat of nine lives, Kony has continued to evade capture. If Kony is indeed ill and in- tends to surrender, then, perhaps, finally, the man who has turned into a transcontinental architect of terror has reached the end of his tether. But until he actually shows up waving the white flag, it is tempting to think this could be yet another stalling tactic to help him recuperate and live beyond his nine lives.
November 18th 2013
December 2nd 2013