US troops hunting LRA warlord Kony begin Central Africa pullout

2017-04-27 11:12
Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army  Joseph Kony (File : AFP)

Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army Joseph Kony (File : AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Libreville - US special forces on Wednesday began to pull out from Central Africa, ending a five-year hunt for brutal LRA warlord Joseph Kony, who is wanted for crimes against humanity.

The departure of the troops sent in to support an African Union regional force "will be completed a short while after it begins on April 26", Charles Prichard, spokesperson for the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), told AFP.

"A small contingent of US military personnel will continue to work in the area to complete logistical tasks... such as removing equipment. Those tasks will be completed by September 2017," he added.

In late 2011, Washington deployed about 100 special forces to the Central African Republic to back up Ugandan soldiers tracking Kony, and 150 special forces airmen were added three years later.

One of Africa's longest-surviving rebel groups, the Lord's Resistance Army has terrorised parts of central Africa for 30 years.

Since being set up by Kony in 1987, it is accused of slaughtering more than 100 000 people and abducting 60 000 children who were forced to become sex slaves and soldiers.

After counting several thousand fighters a few years ago, it now has fewer than 100 dispersed across parts of the CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan.

Last month AFRICOM said it would wrap up the operation, which has cost $600m to $800m, even though Kony remains at large.

 LRA 'in survival mode' 

"The time has come to move forward because the organisation itself is really in a survival mode," said General Thomas Waldhauser, head of AFRICOM.

Ugandan troops began to withdraw on April 19, saying that the mission to neutralise the LRA had been "successfully achieved" and that Kony "no longer poses any significant threat".

A self-styled prophet, Kony launched his bloody rebellion in a bid to overthrow the Ugandan government and impose a regime based on his own version of the Ten Commandments.

He is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity, where one of his commanders, Dominic Ongwen, is currently on trial.

Analysts as well as residents of eastern CAR fear that the departure of US and Ugandan forces will leave a security vacuum, enabling the LRA to resurface.

Although there are UN peacekeeping forces from its MINUSCA mission in Central Africa, very few of them are present in the east of the country.

"This withdrawal will lead to a renewal of LRA attacks in the southeast," warned Thierry Vircoulon, a specialist on central Africa at the French institute for international relations IFRI.

But US spokesperson Prichard said "AFRICOM remains committed to our partners in the region and will continue to work with them to find solutions to security challenges in the region."

Read more on:    joseph kony  |  drc  |  us  |  uganda  |  central african republic  |  central africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.