In 2012, a YouTube video about Lord’s Resistance Army chief Joseph Kony went viral, introducing many to the cruel and violent war criminal for the first time. One year later, in 2013, Kony is still presumably at large, and no one is really that close to catching him. The White House placed a $5 million bounty on Kony’s head Wednesday, but Uganda has pretty much given up looking for him.
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, and is accused (along with his commanders) of abducting thousands of children to use as soldiers in his rebel army. Gruesomely, he is also known for chopping off the limbs of his slave soldiers as a form of punishment.
Kony and what’s left of his army are thought to be hiding in the jungles on the borders of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda provides over 3,000 troops to the 5,000+ African Union force hunting Kony, but are pulling their men out and abandoning the search.
They say that hostility toward foreign troops by Central African Republic rebels is to blame for their decision.
“These rebels have been openly hostile to us and following that, the president (of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni) has ordered us only to be in defensive positions,” said Dick Olum, Ugandan troop boss and leader in the hunt for Kony.
“So we’ve temporarily suspended offensive operations against the LRA for now until we receive further orders,” he said Wednesday.
Interestingly, Uganda’s decision to quit the search (for now) comes on the same day that the Obama administration offered up to $5 million in rewards for information that leads to the capture of Kony.
The bounties are offered by the State Department through a provision in the War Crimes Rewards Program authored by Secretary of State John Kerry when he was still just a senator. It was signed into law by President Obama in January.
What do you think? Will a $5 million purse increase efforts to find Joseph Kony, or is Uganda’s search halt an even bigger obstacle to bringing this war criminal to justice?