The United States on Wednesday posted a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Lord’s Resistance Army chief Joseph Kony, and a similar bounty for three other rebel leaders.
Kony has been on the run in the jungles of Central Africa, but the LRA has waged a fierce insurgency across four countries for two decades. It is notorious for mutilating victims and abducting children for use as sex slaves and soldiers.
Kony’s name was added to the State Department’s war crimes rewards program along with fellow LRA members Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, and Sylvestre Mudacumura from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The bounties are being offered by the State Department under a provision in the War Crimes Rewards Program authored by Secretary of State John Kerry when he was a senator and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January. That provision expanded the scope of the program that had previously allowed for rewards to be offered for war crimes suspects wanted only by international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
Kony is accused of ordering widespread atrocities during a brutal campaign for power that originated in Uganda in the 1980s and is wanted by the International Criminal Court. He is now believed to be hiding in the Central African Republic where an international manhunt for him led by African troops has been suspended due to lack of cooperation from that country’s new leaders, who overthrew the government last month.
This bounty will increase pressure on the LRA Leader who is already on the run and shows how the Obama administration is serious with apprehending the warlord. In 2011, the US offered 100 special forces to help in tracking down the elusive Joseph Kony.
WHO IS JOSEPH KONY?
Born Joseph Rao Kony in 1961, he is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group he formed in Uganda in the 1980s.
Though his movement initially enjoyed strong public support, the LRA allegedly turned on its own supporters, supposedly to “purify” the Acholi people who inhabit the Northern part of the country and turn Uganda into a theocracy.
Kony who claims he is the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, has nurtured a cult of personality, and claims he is visited by a host of 13 spirits, including a Chinese shade.
Ideologically, the group is a syncretic mix of mysticism, Acholi nationalism and ‘Christian fundamentalism’, and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and local Acholi tradition.
Kony has been accused by governments of ordering the abduction of children to become child-sex slaves and child soldiers.
An estimated 66,000 children became soldiers and two million people have been internally displaced since 1986.
Kony was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2005 but has evaded capture. The LRA operates in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Additional Reporting By Agencies