31 July 2013

Uganda: Joseph Kony Losing Control Over the LRA - Report

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
A child multilated by LRA rebels standing by Ugandan Defence Force soldiers.

Kampala — Joseph Kony, leader of the notorious Lords Resistance Army(LRA) rebels is losing control over his group that for decades he has controlled with a tight fist, says a new report by the American Advocacy organisation, Resolve.

"LRA defectors report that morale within the LRA is at an all-time low and Kony is increasingly unable to motivate his fighters," said Paul Ronan, Co-founder and Director of Policy at Resolve in a statement on Wednesday.

Resolve says its findings is based on several interviews it conducted between March and April this year in Obo in Central Africa Republic, Yambio and Nzara in South Sudan, Dungu in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gulu and Kampala in Uganda

The report attributes the apparent loosening of Kony's grip on his fighters to a military operation against him by regional forces particularly the Ugandan military with support from the US government.

"Pressure from Ugandan military operations against the LRA in CAR and Congo has contributed to the breakdown of morale and discipline within the ranks of Ugandan LRA combatants," observes the report.

The LRA is mostly made up of fighters from northern Uganda, Kony's home region, where the rebel leader has ironically been accused of heinous crimes by the International Criminal Court(ICC).

In 2005 the ICC indicted Joseph Kony and several of his key commanders.

For the many years that he caused mayhem in northern Uganda and now South Sudan, Kony was reportedly operating with support from the government of Sudan.

The Resolve report says the rebel leader is trying to connect his ties with Khartoum albeit without much success.

"Kony has also tried, with limited success, to reach out to former backers in the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). LRA groups acting on Kony's orders have been in contact with SAF officers in Kafia Kingi, a disputed enclave along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, at least since the end of 2009," the report adds.

In 2008 the LRA was included on a list of terrorist organisation by the US State Department. The rebel group is viewed a major security threat in the Great Lakes region.

In 2011, US President Barrack Obama sent to Uganda 100 military advisers to help the armies of Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central Africa Republic to fight the rebel group that in the past few years has mainly been operating in Central Africa Republic.

Although the rebel group has been weakened it still has capacity to harm the civilian population in the Great Lakes.

Resolve makes several recommendations for the rebel group to be defeated among them that the African Union should ask the Sudan government to allow broadcast messages encouraging defections from the LRA to be dropped in the Kafia Kingi enclave.

The report also recommends that communities in South Sudan, DR Congo and CAR should make input in broadcast messages targeting LRA fighters. The broadcasts encouraging defections, the report says, is one of the reasons why Kony's control of the LRA is weakened.

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