Report from Sudan Tribune, Saturday, 13 March 2010:
March 12, 2010 (KAMPALA) — The notorious leader of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony may have relocated to Sudan’s Western of Darfur, the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said at a press conference in Kampala today.
"Central African republic allowed our troops to operate there. Our troops have been successfully hunting the LRA rebels and a good number of them have been killed. The rebels have been operating there in three small groups. The Ugandan troops operating there have told me that the group comprising Kony has fled into Darfur," Museveni according to local media.
The Ugandan leader further said that he is not concerned if the intel turns out to be true because it means that the LRA figures have settled in Darfur far away from his country and sparing it the havoc they are known to create.
The fugitive LRA leader has been on the run since December 2008 when regional states launched a hunt to nab him after he refused to sign a peace deal with Kampala.
Since the operation, remnant LRA fighters have been moving in the jungles of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, south Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Kony and two of his lieutenants have been charged with atrocities in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, which under international law requires they be turned over immediately upon capture or surrender. Past attempts to ink a peace deal between LRA and Kampala has failed primarily because the rebels wanted to persuade the Hague based court to drop the case.
The Ugandan president vowed today that he would see that Kony gets hanged once he is captured despite a legal obligation as an ICC member to send him to the Hague.
"If our troops get a chance of capturing Kony, he will be tried here and be hanged. We will not take him to ICC court in Hague court because there they take such people in hotels. Here, we will hang him" Musevini said.
He also did not rule out the possibility that LRA are receiving support from Khartoum as the case was in the past during the civil war years between North and South Sudan.
"If the Sudanese want to accommodate him in Darfur, that makes no difference to us" Musevini said.
"It makes no difference because they supported him much more in the past but whatever they gave him, we captured," he added.
Earlier this week, the Washington-based Enough Project said today that a contingent of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has taken refuge in areas of South Darfur controlled by the Government of Sudan.
Accordingly, an LRA reconnaissance team in late 2009 sought to make contact with the Sudanese army at their base in Kafia Kingi, near south Darfur’s border with CAR, according to Enough Project. Now, based on field research and interviews with government and United Nations officials in several countries, Enough says that it can "confirm that LRA units have reached south Darfur."
A similar claim was voiced by the official spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, who asserted last year that LRA leader Joseph Kony himself was in Darfur. This was denied by Salah Gosh, presidential advisor and ex-chief of the intelligence and security service.
However, senior members of the rebel group’s political wing in the Kenyan capital Nairobi dismissed the claims.
"This is part of continued fabrications and guesswork about LRA whereabouts and we would like to dismiss this baseless report with all the contempt it deserves," Colonel Michael Anywar, who acted as LRA military liaison, told Alertnet in Nairobi.
"It’s true that Khartoum once supported LRA but that kind of support stopped in 2002 after which we chose cut those ties," said Justine Labeja, who said he is the head of LRA peace delegation.
Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir is also wanted by the ICC for war crimes he allegedly masterminded in Darfur.
According to the U.N. refugees agency, the LRA caused most of the displacement in central Africa in 2009 with hundreds of thousands uprooted.
The rebels have looted, killed civilians and abducted children from three countries, forcing many to flee their homes, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. (ST)