Where in the world is Joseph Kony?
Back in April, the Ugandan army captured yet another member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). While this is not an uncommon occurrence, the military’s newfound prisoner was a notable exception. Dressed in a Sudanese uniform and equipped with its arms and ammunition, this LRA fighter is strong evidence of a growing link between two of the ICC’s most wanted.
A group of 100 U.S. military advisors was deployed last fall to locations in the Central African Republic, the DR Congo, South Sudan, and Uganda. Kony had been traveling in and out of northern Uganda for quite some time, and any attempt to detain him could very likely take place in any one of its neighbors. However, it would appear that none of the American contingents will find their man without crossing into Sudanese territory.
Minni Minawi’s faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, which withdrew from the Darfur peace agreement early last year, asserts that Kony’s forces have moved from the Western Bahr el Ghazal province of South Sudan into the North’s territory within Darfur. This larger area converges with the eastern border of the Central African Republic, the commander’s longtime rumored hideout. Testimony from escaped LRA victims and mounting intelligence received by the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) indicate that Joseph Kony and his senior command are moving freely from country to country, and moving their operations ever further north.
Sudan has a history of supplying and supporting the insurgency in northern Uganda, dating back to its decades-old conflict with the SPLM. A strengthened LRA wreaking havoc in Salva Kiir’s backyard is exactly the kind of destabilizer that put the odds in favor of Khartoum. Bashir and his administration firmly deny any renewed ties with the indicted warlord, fully understanding the diplomatic headache this news could spawn. With the two Sudans on the brink of war with one another, discretion is Khartoum’s best bet of avoiding further entanglements. Bashir has conceded to talks with the Ugandan government and, despite Yoweri Museveni’s insistence that the UPDF will triumph Kony’s Sudanese support, such dialogue could be promising.