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CFC In Brief - The Lord’s Resistance Army and the Search for Joseph Kony, 31 July 2013

CFC In Brief - The Lord’s Resistance Army and the Search for Joseph Kony, 31 July 2013

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Published by CFC Cimicweb
The Kony 2012 campaign by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Invisible Children, which featured an online documentary on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), quickly captured the world’s attention, highlighting the numerous atrocities inflicted on villages in Central Africa. The movement’s elusive leader, Joseph Kony, is a renowned warlord, recognised for his brutal attacks on civilians and the extensive use of child soldiers. Kony’s atrocities have been well documented, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted the guerrilla leader in 2005 on 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Escaping capture for over 25 years, Kony has effectively used geography and politics to his advantage...
The Kony 2012 campaign by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Invisible Children, which featured an online documentary on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), quickly captured the world’s attention, highlighting the numerous atrocities inflicted on villages in Central Africa. The movement’s elusive leader, Joseph Kony, is a renowned warlord, recognised for his brutal attacks on civilians and the extensive use of child soldiers. Kony’s atrocities have been well documented, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted the guerrilla leader in 2005 on 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Escaping capture for over 25 years, Kony has effectively used geography and politics to his advantage...

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The Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC) is an information and knowledge management organisation focused on improving civil-military interaction, facilitating information sharing and enhancing situational awareness through the CimicWeb  portal and our weekly and monthly publications. CFC products are based upon and link to open-source information from a wide variety of  organisations, research centres and media sources. However, the CFC does not endorse and cannot necessarily guarantee the accuracy or objectivity of these sources. CFC publications are independently produced by Desk Officers and do not reflect NATO or ISAF policies or positions of any other organisation.
 
ACO CIVIL-MILITARY FUSION CENTRE
The Lord’s Resistance Army and the Search for Joseph Kony
 
 Nikola Kov
 
August 2013
 Introduction
The Kony 2012 campaign by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Invisible Children, which featured an onlinedocumentary on the
Lord’s Resistance Army
 
(LRA), quickly captured the world’s attention
, highlighting the numerousatrocities inflicted on villages in Central Africa. The
movement’s elusive leader, Joseph Kony, is
a renowned warlord,recognised for his brutal attacks on civilians and the extensive
use of child soldiers. Kony’
s atrocities have been welldocumented, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted the guerrilla leader in 2005 on 33 counts of  war crimes and crimes against humanity. Escaping capture for over 25 years, Kony has effectively used geography and politics to hisadvantage. The vast, dense jungle has proven an effective cover for his troops,
and the region’s protracted conflicts have
diverted significant resources of governments in the region, in particular Uganda. According to
The Guardian
, the Kony2012 campaign attracted international attention to the LRA and prompted greater coordination in international efforts to capture Kony and defeat his group. However, although LRA attacks have declined significantly, Kony still remains at large.
 Evolution of the LRA
Joseph Kony was born during the 1960s in northern Uganda. He is believed to be the cousin of 
Holy Spirit Movement’s
 leader Alice Lakwena. Kony was reportedly inspired by her  Movement,which undertook a one-year insurgency against the Ugandan government in 1986. After this insurgency was defeated, Kony took the remnants of the movement andsubsequently started the LRA. Kony claims to communicate with the Holy Spirit and declared his actions are enticed byspirits. Former LRA members state that Kony uses Biblical references regularly to explain the use of violence. In his onlyinterview,given in 1996, Kony described the LRA as a guerrilla movement rather than terrorist one. He denied atrocities of which he was accused, shifting the blame onto the Ugandan government.Throughout its 27-year existence, the LRA has undergone many phases of  insurrection,according to the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups. A common trait of the movement is the use of excessive violence, which especially targetedcivilians. In the beginning, the LRA targeted government troops and infrastructure, but soon resorted to crimes against theUgandan civilian population. The origin of the LRA is strongly connected to the personality of its leader Joseph Kony, butits roots can be traced throughout the entire post-colonial history of Uganda.The LRA reportedly began as a movement to emancipate the Acholi people,anindigenous people of northern Uganda, following the failure of the Holy Spirit Movement. While under British colonial authority (1962
 – 
1971), the Acholi regionwas poorer than southern Uganda, but Acholi people held most of the ranks within the national army. The Acholi then briefly dominated the army and government during the rule of Milton Obote (1971); however, this dominance changedunder Idi Amin. The Amin regime (1971
 – 
1979) expelled the Acholi people from the army, marking the beginning of theAcholi marginalisation. After the fall of Amin, the Acholi were once again important in the armies and the governments of Milton Obote, who returned to power with the elections of 1980, and his successor Tito Okello, an Acholi army commander who subsequently brought Obote down from power in 1985. The second Obote regime committed human rights violationsagainst the Buganda people of southern Uganda and people of north-western Uganda who had supported Amin. YoseriMuseveni, the current president, started the civil war  against Obote government immediately after the 1980 elections. When Museveni took over from Okello by coup in 1986, he retaliated against the Acholi people. Kony subsequently used
Museveni’s oppression
and marginalisation of the Acholi to mobilise his supporters. Ironically, violence and terror on the part of the LRA displaced ninety per cent of the Acholi population during the 1980s and 1990s.
.
 
Complex Coverage
In-Brief  
 
 
 
August 2013 Page 2
The Lord’s Resistance Army
 
 Regional Implications
The Ugandan army began its first large scale operations in combating the LRA during the1990s,which succeeded in diminishing popular support for the LRA. The LRA then began using tactics that will make it notorious for years to come:child abduction, rapes and mutilations. In the mid-1990s, child abduction became a primary recruiting method for the LRA,as illustrated bythe Human Right Watch report in 1997. At the same time, the LRA, weakened in Uganda, began to internationalise its insurrection by moving into South Sudan. After  failed negotiations to make peace with the Ugandan government in 1994, the LRA began receiving funding and weapons from the government of Sudan,which used LRA in its fight against S
udan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south, but also to destabilise Uganda which supported SouthSudan’s fight for independence. The LRA used 
 bases in Sudan to carry out attacks across the border in Uganda. Abductedchildren were taken to bases in South Sudan where they were trained to be soldiers. Most of the violence became directed atthe Acholi civilian population of northern Uganda, the very people the LRA claimed to want to protect from thegovernment.The pattern of LRA deployment in South Sudan and Uganda continued until 2002, when Sudan stopped aiding the LRAafter its designation as terrorist organisation  by the US Department of State in 2001. While the LRA never presented an existential threat to Ugandan government, Uganda subsequently launched a massive military opera
tion branded
 against LRA bases in South Sudan in 2002. The Sudanese government gave the Ugandan army permission to enter the southern part of Sudan as far as the Juba
 – 
Torit highway. The operation, like those in the 1990s, was a failure andresulted in large scale retaliatory attacks  by the LRA. The Ugandan army became drawn into the conflict, with the LRA infiltrating deeper into Ugandan territory than ever before and executing their attacks with more brutality.The conflict drew the attention of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which ordered the arrest of Joseph Kony and senior LRA leaders in July 2005. At the time of the Ugandan operation, the LRA may have been at its strongest, in terms of supplies andmanpower, after years of Sudanese assistance. Constraints under which Ugandan army operated in Sudan, such as limitedarea of deployment also contributed to the failure of the operation.A new round of peace talks took place in Juba in July 2006, mediated by the vice president of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar .  Joseph Kony, participating by video, denied all accusations of atrocities and called for peace. The government of Ugandaoffered him amnesty,a practice which was already successful in encouraging the defection of the LRA fighters. The talksculminated with the signing of the ceasefire in August. Uganda even proposed that the ICC drop the charges against the LRA leadership. However, negotiationsstalled  before any comprehensive agreement was reached and the ceasefire soon faltered. Vincent Otti, the chief LRA negotiator, died under unexplained circumstances in January 2008. By the second half of 2008,the LRA resumed its campaign of attacks and abductions. Initial attacks were carried out in Southern Sudan, followed by larger attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).The renewed LRA attacks prompted DRC, South Sudan and Uganda to launch a joint military operation against the LRA.The operation followed a well-
known pattern: the governments’ militaries succeeded
in driving the LRA out of Uganda andSouth Sudan, but the rebels established new bases, this time in DRC.Kony remained at large and the LRA engaged in more  brutal retaliatory attacks against the civilian population, now primarily in eastern DRC and Central African Republic (CAR). Increased violence between 2008 and 2011 led to renewed international efforts to restrain the LRA. In late 2011, the US sent100 troops to aid Ugandan forces in combating the LRA. In March 2012, an African Union (AU) force of 5,000 soldiers under Ugandan leadership was formed to find Kony. Although Kony has not been caught, attacks by the LRA diminished in 2012 and so far in 2013, and rebel defections have increased. Due to the fact that LRA leadership is presumed to be CAR,the recent coup in CAR brought the LRA issue again to the forefront. To date, the new CAR military government has not allowed international troops to continue their hunt for Kony.
Tactics, Financing and Structure
 Nearly all LRA attacks target civilians. Excessive violence against civilians made the hunt for the LRA more challenging for  opposing troops which had to leave a portion of their forces behind in order to protect civilians. Mutilations, most commonlythe cutting off of ears, noses and lips, are used with the purpose of creating fear amongst civilian populations to preventthem from surrendering information regarding LRA whereabouts. The attacked villages are carefully chosen to prevent losses for LRA soldiers. Usually, single abductions from the village precede attacks to ensure that villages are unprotected.Attacks are usually more frequent in January, February and March, which coincides with the dry season in Central Africa. The LRA is believed to leverage  peace negotiations for tactical purposes. The LRA never truly committed to peace talks and
 
 
August 2013 Page 3
The Lord’s Resistance Army
 
used them as a necessary break from fighting in order to regroup its troops, which were always smaller in numbers than theopposing forces.The Lord's Resistance Crisis tracker places the number of civilian deaths resulting from LRA attacks at 1,294, andabductions at 2,918 from 2009 to 2013. LRA attacks are also known to cause massive civilian displacement. More than400,000  people are currently displaced due to the LRA attacks in CAR, DRC, and South Sudan. During the Ugandainsurrection phase (1986-2007), more than two million Acholi were displaced.The Sudanese government formally ceased funding the LRA in 2002; however, reports claim that Kony still receives help  from contacts within Sudan. Aside from Sudan, the only other sources of LRA financing are generated by attacks carried out on local villages, during which households and stores are completely pillaged of food and supplies used to sustain theinsurgency. Recent reports also indicate that the LRA is using elephant poaching,and subsequent illicit trade, as a means to secure funding.The internal structure of the LRA recognises Joseph Kony as the chief commander. A group of generals known as theCommand Altar provide the next leadership tier under Kony. The LRA structure is based on military ranks assigned byKony, and is divided into four brigades: Gilva, Sinia, Stocktree and Trinkle, which operated semi-independently of Kony.The amount of control Kony has over portions of his brigades is dependent on communication. Usuallycommunications  between Kony and his generals takes place through satellite phone, which is rumoured to have diminished as theinternational hunt for Kony intensified.
Child Soldiers
The forced enlistment of  child soldiers,who were subsequently trained as guerrillas, became the primary means of filling LRA ranks in the late 1990s, according to
Global Security
. The children have typically been subjected to beatings, rapes,and forced marches until exhausted, and were reportedly forced to participate in the killing of other children who hadattempted escape. According to
 BBC 
, analysts see the emergence of  child abductions as the reason for the unpopularity of  LRA in Uganda and their inability to stage a large scale insurgency.Children are the easiest targets of forceful recruiting, with the LRA typically abducting children between the ages of 9 and12.The LRA typically uses abducted children as both couriers and soldiers. Immediately after abduction, children are forcedto commit murders, mutilations or beatings of other abductees or their own parents as part of the initiation process with the purpose of instilling fear and preventing defections. They are often drugged and indoctrinated to believe in 
spiritual powers.While  boys are used as couriers and fighters, girls serve as sex slaves to LRA soldiers. Their average time serving within the LRA is longer than the boys, and they have fewer opportunities to escape as they do not participate incombat operations away from the camp. It is estimated that Kony alone has up to sixty wives and numerous children. There are reports of a second generation of children born into the LRA, which have never experienced life outside the group. Numerous children have been born in captivity; these children are subsequently trained as soldiers at an early age and are exempt from torture. Numbers concerning child abductions by the LRA over the past twenty years vary depending on the source, with estimatesranging from 20,000 to 60,000. A 2007 World Bank report  places the total abductee count over two decades of insurrection at 66,000. The
Small Wars Journal 
writes that the practice continuesunrestricted today and children account for  approximately ninety per cent of LRA forces. Due to the fact that LRA ranks are estimated at just several hundred soldiers,this would place the number of children killed at more than 10,000 since the 1990s. The rehabilitation and reintegration of  children who do return home is difficult, as most suffer from major psychological and health problems caused by LRA abuseand the overall harshness of life in the jungle. While some escaped or were rescued, the fate of thousands of childrenremains unknown.
Combating the LRA
President Museveni favoured a military solution in dealing with the LRA militants, who were initially a domestic issue for  Uganda. However, all large scale operations by the Ugandan government were historically met with an upsurge in violence   by the LRA. When the LRA became a regional issue, negotiations, whether bilateral with the Ugandan government or inmultilateral forums, such as Juba, never achieved much success in dealing with Kony. However, Uganda did succeed in pushing the LRA away from its borders, and after more than twenty years of fighting, it no longer presents a direct threat to

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