Military ends manhunt for ruthless warlord Kony
KAMPALA, UGANDA | Uganda’s military announced on Wednesday that it is ending its pursuit of internationally known warlord Joseph Kony, saying its mission “has now been successfully achieved” even though the rebel leader remains at large. The decision means the manhunt for one of the world’s most notorious fugitives is effectively over.
Uganda has started pulling its forces from Central African Republic, which for years had been the base for troops chasing the rebels, military spokesman Brig. Richard Karemire said.
The news was announced shortly after the Trump administration’s decision last month to pull out of the manhunt for Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, saying the active membership of his Lord’s Resistance Army is now fewer than 100. The U.S. departure left only Uganda in the manhunt.
At the peak of its powers, the rebel group was known worldwide for its cruelty against civilians in Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic and what is now South Sudan. In 2012, the U.S.-based advocacy group Invisible Children made a video that quickly became viral highlighting the LRA’s alleged crimes, including the abduction of children for use as sex slaves or fighters.
Kony, a former Catholic altar boy whose rebel movement aspired to rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. One of his former commanders, Dominic Ongwen, is on trial at The Hague-based court.
Although the military mission’s ultimate goal was to capture or kill Kony, there has been no word on his exact whereabouts for years, even as many of his top commanders defected or were killed.
About 1,500 Ugandan troops had been deployed in Central African Republic under an African Union military mission to defeat the LRA. All of the Ugandan troops will return home by the end of May, with the first arriving home on Wednesday, military spokesman Brig. Karemire said.
Uganda’s mission to neutralize the LRA “has now been successfully achieved,” he said.
Amid concerns about the military pullouts, the African Union last month suggested that U.N. peacekeeping missions in the region be used to continue anti-LRA efforts.