The US Department of State has announced a cash reward for “individuals who provide information that leads to the arrest, transfer, or conviction” of Ugandan fugitive Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony.

“You can help bring him to justice and get paid up to $5 million (about Tsh. 11 billion),” the US said in a social media post on February 12 through its War Crimes Rewards Program.

In the late 1980s, Kony, a self-proclaimed messiah sent by God to oppose the 1986 President Museveni establishment, founded the LRA, a United Nations (UN) designated terror group, but has eluded justice for nearly three decades.

For more than two decades, Kony has waged war in Central Africa under the guise of various organizations and armed groups. He has gained the most notoriety, however, as the leader of the LRA. Initially fighting government troops in Uganda, the LRA has also operated in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR).

The LRA’s violence is symptomatic of much of the violence we’ve seen in this region over the last two decades: small, well-armed militias fighting against troops from weak governments, their movement facilitated by porous borders. Their methods include – but are not limited to – the forced recruitment of child soldiers, deliberate targeting of civilian populations and rape and sexual enslavement as weapons war.

“Joseph Kony has been wanted for more than 15 years,” the US noted, assuring “complete confidentiality” about the source of leads leading to the warlord’s capture. For 20 years, the LRA rebel group led by Kony carried out several brutal insurgent attacks in Northern Uganda, killing over 100,000 people and displacing tens of thousands more across the East African bloc. According to International Criminal Court (ICC) records, Kony’s militants also exploited thousands of forcibly recruited child soldiers.
Previous efforts to apprehend the man, thought to be in his early 60s, have failed, with the former Catholic altar boy, Kony, now rumoured to be in a remote Sudanese location. “The reward is impressive, but I have little hope that he will be apprehended.” “All I can hope for is that justice will be served someday,” says Ronald Odong, 26, who reportedly lost several relatives during the LRA war in present-day Gulu City.

The last mission to apprehend or kill Kony was declared a failure by both Washington and Kampala, although the US spent at least $800 million in joint operations with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in 2017. With several of his aides dead, some captured, jailed and many others granted amnesty,
Kony’s arrest would have him face up to 12 counts of crimes against humanity and at least 21 counts of war crimes following his 2005 ICC indictment.



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