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African Union takes over command hunt for Kony: “In two months before the ICC, alive”

September 23, 2012

Last week, the African Union (AU) was reported to have assumed command over the operation that searches for the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony. The AU force is made up of troops from Uganda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The AU was supposed to have taken over earlier this year, but it lacked troops and equipment. Whether all this is resolved remains unclear, but apparently the resources are such that the AU now is able to take on its commanding role.

A handover ceremony is reported to have taken place last Tuesday in South Sudan. Al-Jazeera reports that at the

command handover ceremony in Yambio, AU’s special envoy on the LRA, Francisco Madeira, said the DRC had still not contributed troops but some commitments had been made and said the force required assistance to help it function properly.

“We need more support, I don’t have to elaborate on these because my predecessor has done this so well. We need support in terms of means of transport, communication, medicine, combat rations and uniforms for the troops tracking the LRA. This is particularly important and critical and most urgent for the central African troops who handed over their contingent despite the challenges facing them,” Madeira said.

[…]

At the same ceremony, Uganda’s defence minister, Chrispus Kiyonga, said there were still disagreements over areas of operation by troops from different countries.

“We are yet to fully agree on how this troops will operate because now they are going to be one force, a regional task force with its commander,” Kiyonga said.

“There are two concepts: There are people who think that the SPLA [Sudan People Liberation Army] should only work on the side of Sudan, that the army of the Central African Republic should only work there [within its own borders] … but there is the other concept that some of us support, [which is] that once there is one unified force, co-ordinated force then it should go wherever Kony is. We think that way, it will be more effective.”

Belgian journalist Chris Michel recently shot a documentary that portraits the search for Kony and his LRA. Parts of this interesting documentary can be seen here (the comments are in Dutch, but the interviews are done in English; it starts after a clip from the Kony 2012 video, which sparked intense discussions earlier this year). The documentary shows the American special forces that assist in finding the remnants of the LRA. It is reported that the LRA has been forced to spit up in small groups, and that Kony is likely to be hiding in the Darfur region of Sudan. One can see that the American special forces discussing new information on the (possible) whereabouts of the LRA, but it is reported the American intelligence specialists do not participate in the actual fighting and that any engagement is done by the Ugandan (and now AU) force. One of the Ugandan soldiers talks about an upcoming special operation that should ensure the capture of Kony within two months. His commander, Colonel Balikudembe, says that Kony will be captured alive and will immediately transferred to the International Criminal Court.

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