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May 13, 2014

UN Official: LRA Weakened, Removing Kony Remains Key

by VOA News

A United Nations official said the activities of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army have been greatly reduced, but that there is "no room for complacency" while the group's leader, Joseph Kony, is still operating.
 
Abou Moussa, the head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa, told the Security Council on Monday that an African-led military campaign and defections by rebels have weakened the L.R.A. He said the result has been a continued decline in the number of killings, abductions and people forced from their homes by the rebels.
 
"Now we need to see our way collectively to make sure that Kony himself is removed from the battlefield so that populations, IDPs, refugees can all go back home and live in peace," said Moussa.
 
He said he thinks Kony's capture is "coming pretty soon."
 
A report from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week said there are credible sources suggesting Kony and other senior L.R.A. commanders recently sought a safe haven in an area known as Kafia Kingi that is controlled by Sudan. 
 
Moussa cautioned that Kony regularly moves around the forested region that straddles the borders of Sudan, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and that most of the L.R.A. activity is now in the C.A.R.
 
“He may have been sighted, but that doesn’t mean he’s permanent because he knows eyes are after him. We have troops who are tracking him on a daily basis,” said Moussa.
 
Moussa also said he met with Sudan's ambassador, who reaffirmed that the Sudanese government is not harboring Kony and that the area is a "no-man's land."
 
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called on Sudan to work with the African Union to investigate the reported sighting and not give the LRA any support.
 
"Any government should be embarrassed to be sheltering the Lord's Resistance Army.  After a quarter century of merciless brutality, the L.R.A. should not be tolerated, let alone helped, by anyone," said Power.
 
The Security Council issued a statement praising the progress made against the L.R.A. and saying that momentum must continue until the rebels are no longer a threat.
 
It cited estimates from the U.N. humanitarian agency showing a dramatic decrease in the number of people displaced by the L.R.A., dropping from 420,000 people in March 2013 to 160,000 in March of this year.
 
Kony waged a brutal guerrilla war against the Ugandan government for nearly two decades before fleeing with his fighters to the jungles of central Africa around 2005. He is believed to have no more than a few hundred fighters remaining.
 
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.