Global Policy Forum

Joseph Kony and The Lord’s Resistance Army are not Going Away

Last year, the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni stated that his army had defeated Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is responsible for abduction, rape and killing of civilians in several countries such as Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. The UN recently released a report showing an increase in reported attacks by the LRA, which contradicts claims that the LRA is finished. Kony is still one of the world’s most-wanted criminals and evidence suggests that the LRA is regrouping.

By Ledio Cakaj

The Africa Report
August 25, 2011

Continued attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) contradict claims that the group is finished.

Despite Ugandan president Museveni’s statement last year that his army defeated Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of the LRA continues to lead the movement he started around the time Museveni came to power 25 years ago.

A recent UN report noted an increase in LRA violence in the first three months of 2011 in the Central African Republic (CAR), Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the DRC, 34 attacks were reported in the month of January 2011 alone, an increase of 162% on a year ago.

Yet Congolese army officials say the LRA does not pose a threat to civilians, claiming improbably that there are only 12-18 LRA fighters in the DRC. The real number is probably closer to 200, particularly since January 2011, when Joseph Kony left CAR and re-entered DRC where he probably remains. 

Politics, rather than reality, fuels the denials of the LRA’s continued presence. Museveni claimed the LRA was defeated while canvassing votes in Northern Uganda, the LRA birthplace and location of the conflict from 1987 until 2006 when the rebels relocated to the DRC. Museveni won the February 2011 presidential elections partly because of an increase in votes from the north, which had traditionally voted for the opposition.

Congolese officials want Ugandan soldiers – who have been chasing LRA fighters in the DRC since December 2008 – to go home. A history of Ugandan army officers looting Congolese minerals in the late 1990s is the main reason for such animosity.

Evidence suggests the LRA is quietly regrouping. Fighters who recently defected report LRA efforts to secure military support, as well as increased abductions to beef up their ranks. Once-scattered groups are now moving into strategic locations.

In the past 20 months, Kony’s envoys met twice with officers from the Khartoum-controlled Sudanese armed forces in southern Darfur, according to former LRA combatants. There is no evidence so far that the Khartoum government, a former patron, has resumed aiding the LRA militarily.

LRA commanders convened at the end of April in Garamba National Park. The location of the meeting and position of LRA troops is significant. Garamba was home to the LRA between the end of 2005 and December 2008. Situated in north-eastern DRC, adjacent to South Sudan and Uganda, Garamba very likely contains caches of ammunition hidden by LRA fighters in the past. 

It is unclear what Kony will do next. Fears of LRA attacks in South Sudan to destabilise the world’s soon-to-be newest country have largely failed to materialise, but the amassing of LRA troops in close proximity is a legitimate cause for concern. A return to northern Uganda, which is unlikely but not impossible, could revisit past horrors in a region still reeling from the conflict and leave President Museveni red-faced.

In the meantime the rebels continue to attack civilians with impunity while planning their next move.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.