Saturday, January 30, 2010

Joseph, where are you?

Joseph Kony and his LRA have not been seen or heard in the past month?

In a story by Uganda's government-owned New Vision daily newspaper, written by Raymond Baguma, the statement was made that Kony was thought to be in an area that includes portions of Central African Republic, south Darfur (Sudan) and the western Bahr-el-Ghazal province of South Sudan.

“It is almost a month with no reported LRA activities in the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan,” according to Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.

Is Kony dead?

Probably just laying low.

Some have speculated that Kony and his LRA are being re-armed for a possible assault on South Sudan ahead of this year's regional and national elections. That remains a distinct possibility.

But nothing in a month? No attacks? No looting? No abductions?

While these facts stir thoughts that Kony may be approaching the end, I recall my many interviews with northern Ugandans victimized by Kony's atrocities.

They said be careful when it's quiet. Kony is preparing to strike.

We wait.

These nuggets of information came at the end of the New Vision story about the Ugandan soldiers FINALLY getting paid for the dangerous and thankless work they are doing in Somalia.

Uganda provides the bulk of forces battling fanatical Islamic militants in Somalia, and these soldiers are the thin line of defence against the total takeover by militants in Somalia.

Despite the blatant and obvious threat that militant Islam presents to the African continent, the increasingly useless African Union agreed to pay the massive outstanding balances owed the Ugandan troops who now are the bulk of the "peacekeeper" in Somalia.

The troops have not been paid since May 2009. That's nearly a year.

Ugandan defence minister Crispus Kiyonga attempted to clarify the situation when he told the press: “More than six months ago, the African Union secretariat got problems and payments could not continue. But about a month ago, the flow of payments began. The arrears are being paid and all the soldiers will be cleared.”

The AU "got" problems?

In reality, what this means is that the money went missing, or most likely, did not exist because it had not been paid.

Enter the international community, specifically the U.S.

According to the article, each "peacekeeper" gets $750 a month, which is a good wage in Uganda. In the event of death, the soldier’s family receives $50,000, which is huge!

Burundi is the other country contributing troops.

A total of 37 Ugandan peacekeepers have been killed since 2007.

There are six battalions of totaling about 5,200 Ugandans and Burundians, which is far below the agreed upon 8,000 peacekeepers.

“We (are) waiting for friends of Somalia to come,” Nyakairima said, adding that Uganda was considering deploying more forces to the war-torn country.

Let's hope they're not holding their breath.

No comments: