Thursday, January 29, 2009

The reported defection and pending surrender of Okot Odhiambo, the deputy of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, is a serious blow.

Long thought to be the militia's most ruthless commander, Odhiambo (left above) became deputy to leader Joseph Kony (right above) after Kony executed the former deputy, Vincent Otti who was a strong advocate for peace in October 2007.

Odhiambo is said to have been the LRA commander most responsible for the deadly attack in Feburary 2004 on the Barlonyo refugee camp near Lira in northern Uganda that killed more than 300 people, most of whom were burned to death in their huts, hacked to death or had their head crushed.

Odhiambo's force is thought to be about 45 fighters and about 10 kidnapped civilians. He reportedly has been suffering from serious wounds sustained in battles with the Ugandan army, which is pursuing them.

Odhiambo, along with Kony and a third commander named Dominic Ongwen, are wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Odhiambo took his force to the Doruma area after Uganda's Dec. 14 attack on the LRA's main camp in the Garamba National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Doruma, his forces are said to have killed more then 200 people, about 50 of whom were hacked to death while trying to hide in a church.

Now Odhiambo is demanding amnesty and to stay in Uganda, just like the demands that have been made for the past several years by the LRA as terms of its disarming.

Some sources suggest, however, that the surrender is bogus and only an attempt to buy time and seek aid. We will soon know.

However, if the defection and pending surrender are real, it could be the first of more defections and the beginning of the end for Kony and the LRA.

No comments: