Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sudan harbouring Kony: report

It should come as no surprise that reports this past week from Resolve Uganda claim that Sudan has been harboring international fugitive from justice, Joseph Kony, and his Lord's Resistance Army.
Sudan, of course, denies the charge.  

Titled, "Hidden in Plain Sight," the Resolve report  ( includes satellite images that it claims is a recently-abandoned camp, where Kony apparently was seen in late 2012. The region is called Kafia Kingi, and is in the far northwestern corner of South Sudan, where the borders of Sudan and the Central African Republic meet.  
Despite the fact that the territory is clearly in the newly independent South Sudan, Kafia Kingi is "disputed" land nominally controlled by Sudan.

"Eyewitnesses testify that elements from Sudan's military actively provided Kony and other LRA leaders with periodic safe haven in Sudanese-controlled territory from 2009 until at least February 2013," according to the Resolve report.
While the report raises the necessary red flags about Kony's whereabouts and lines of support, it reflects a host of past behavior patterns on the part of ALL parties concerned.
For much of the 20 years that Kony fought his bloody war in northern Uganda, he and his army of child soldiers found refuge in South Sudan during Uganda's dry season, where Kony was able to establish semi-permanent camps and grow food.
In First Kill Your Family, I write about my interviews with Kony's former top commanders who described being hosted by the Sudanese, who controlled South Sudan then, including one LRA commander who was flown to a hospital in Khartoum where he was treated for a severe wound that resulted in a leg amputation.
Sudan's support for Kony was due to Kony's guerilla war against Uganda, following the principle that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was an ardent supporter of the late John Garang, who led South Sudan in its war for independence from Sudan. 
The situation is no different today than it was back then. While Kony has directed his attacks in the past couple of years against the innocent people of eastern Central African Republic, the fact that he remains camped out in South Sudan is a warning.

Then as now, Kony has the strong potential of being a thorn in the side of South Sudan, wreaking havoc on the South Sudanese, who even now are struggling to solidify their independence and their claims to the oil-rich Abyei region that is challenged by Sudan.
Another repeated pattern that the Resolve report reveals is of Uganda's wholly inept efforts to capture Kony. Uganda's army, which has been chasing Kony since 2008 when peace talks finally collapsed, is considered one of the best in east Africa.
The fact that Uganda's army can't find Kony is not an accident. Kony is much more valuable to Uganda alive and on the loose than he is captured and on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he was indicted for war crimes in 2005. 
Kony has been and continues to be an endless excuse for Uganda to received millions of dollars of U.S. and international civilian and military aid. 
After all, U.S. Special Forces were assigned in 2011 to help Uganda's efforts to find Kony in the Central African Republic -- just the latest tranche in two decades worth of money and equipment that has been handed over to the Ugandans.
What has Uganda been doing with all that support and advice? Not much, it appears, since the search for Kony for the past two years has been based in Obo, a remote town in the far eastern tip of the Central African Republic.
Obo is nowhere close to where Resolve says Kony has been operating since 2009. Look for yourself on Kony's apparent location is about 400 north of where the Ugandans and the Americans have been looking.
If a handful of humanitarian activists can track down Kony, what have the Ugandan and their American advisers been doing? Not much, because Uganda does not want Kony captured or killed, but is happy to accept American aid.
If the Resolve report is even remotely true, this is a huge embarrassment to the State Department and the U.S. military advisers.
According to new reports, this is the U.S. response: "The United States is aware and continues to evaluate reports that the LRA has operated in the disputed Kafia Kingi area claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan," said Patrick Ventrell, deputy State Department spokesman.

"The US and the international community as a whole would take very seriously any credible evidence of support or safe haven being provided to the LRA," he said, adding Washington has encouraged Sudan to cooperate with regional efforts to counter the LRA.

Meanwhile, the US has thrown more money on the table, a reward of $5 million for the capture of Kony, who Secretary of State John Kerry said would "not be easy to find."
Given the fact that Uganda once arrested, jailed, then deported a group of mercenaries who were organizing to capture Kony, this reward will undoubtedly result in the same lack of success as all previous efforts.

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