Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kony's last days?

We've heard this before.

Joseph Kony and his cult of child killers, the Lord's Resistance Army, is surrounded, and now it's only a matter of time before he's captured.

These are the words uttered recently by the spokesman for the Ugandan army, which currently has Kony on the run in Garamba National Park in the northeastern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Perhaps it is true. We know that Kony's two top commanders, Okot Odhiambo and Domnic Ongwen, both wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, are negotiating their surrender.

When that may happen is not known. But the fact that they've broken away from Kony and want to give up their fight is significant. It will leave Kony more isolated than in the past, even though he theoretically has the bulk of his force under this command.

According to reports, that force is only about 200 or 250 fighters, along with about and equal number of abductees, women and children.

If the numbers are accurate, it's a greatly reduced force from the 500 or 600 fighters that Kony supposedly commanded earlier

However, I can't help but remember being told that Kony's days were numbered when I interviewed the Ugandan army intelligence chief in northern Uganda in 2005.

At the time, Kony's force was migrating across south Sudan toward the DRC, but LRA units still controlled most of the north and were inflicting serious damage at will. An army convoy had been attacked and half a dozen Ugandan soldiers had been killed.

The attack was dismissed as the "final kicks of a dying horse," a favorite phrase of the Ugandan army. Sadly, they use it too much, even though it's now 2009, some four years later, and Kony and the LRA are still out there.

However, maybe it is true this time. Despite the botched attack on Kony's camps on Dec. 14, Kony's forces are scattered, their communications are down, and their ammo much be all but expended.

But Kony has been in tight spots before. What's next?

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