Although general peace has returned to Northern Uganda, the man who formed the Lord’s Resistance Army and instigated the thousands of ruthless murders and abductions – Joseph Kony – is still on the run. How hard can it be to find a band of 1,000 rebel soldiers hiding in the jungles of Congo? More difficult than most people would guess, apparently.
Newsweek published an indepth article on Kony this week. Here are some of the highlights:
The hunt for Joseph Kony has been marked by one spectacular failure after another. In 2006, in an unprecedented move, the United Nations mounted a covert operation to capture or kill him…The LRA fighters slaughtered them all and, according to one account, beheaded the commander. Some reports put the U.N. dead at eight; others say as many as 40 counterinsurgency troops may have died that morning. The LRA left the corpses in the jungle but took the weapons—including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.
Kony’s chief negotiator [at the peace talks] was a man named David Matsanga, a Ugandan exile who had also done public-relations work for Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. According to several people who worked with him, Matsanga was more “conflict entrepreneur” than credible negotiator. Insiders say he was paranoid and unstable, too. They say he tested his food with a “poison detector” before meals, and if he happened to look away while eating he would demand a fresh plate of food, which also had to be tested before he resumed his meal.
The United States contributed more than $10 million to underwrite the process. Still, it became clear that Kony had no intention of signing any agreement that didn’t guarantee his immunity from prosecution…Before every meeting, Kony would insist on receiving a shipment of food for his “5,000 fighters”—although he’s believed to have no more than 800 at any given time. Makassa says the LRA stashed the provisions for future operations.
At one point she quietly asked Museveni, “Why don’t you just ambush Kony when he’s in one of these meetings?” “We don’t ambush people,” Museveni told her. “If we’re in the bush and somebody’s back is turned, before we strike, we’ll cough.”
Regarding “Operation Lightning Thunder” in December 2008:
Acholi opposition politician chairman Norbert Mao, a tough critic of Museveni’s handling of Kony, put it more harshly: “We had the intel, and if the U.S. had been better involved, it would have been a pinpoint operation. I suspect that sometimes the incompetent management of the military may be deliberate.”
I have to admit that I often wonder if Mao is right.