OCTOBER 29, 2010: LRA's Kony now in Darfur-Ugandan army

LRA's Kony now in Darfur-Ugandan army

SOURCE: Reuters

By Elias Biryabarema

Joseph Kony, leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, is hiding in Sudan's Darfur region after fleeing a pursuit by the Uganda army in Central African Republic (CAR), the army said on Friday.

The rebel group, which has waged a brutal insurgency for nearly 20 years, was ejected from northern Uganda in 2005 and has since roamed remote jungle straddling the borders of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

The LRA is known for chilling violence including hacking body parts off victims, the abduction of young boys to fight and young girls to be used as sex slaves.

"Joseph Kony is no longer in Central African Republic. He crossed into Sudan a few days ago but some elements of LRA commanded by Dominic Ongwen are still in CAR," Felix Kulayigye, defence ministry spokesman told a news conference.

An International Criminal Court (ICC) indictee, Kony often escapes into Sudan whenever he's pursued in CAR because the Ugandan army lacks the mandate to operate there, the army said.

"We cannot pronounce ourselves on whether Kony receives any support from the Sudanese authorities but what we can confirm is that (the Sudanese) are aware of his presence on their territory and they've not done anything to chase him," he said.

The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) has a forward operating base in Obo, CAR, where it has been fighting the LRA with U.S. backing since September 2009.

According to rights groups, the LRA has abducted hundreds of people in central Africa over the past 18 months and killed moany of them, often by crushing their skulls with clubs.

Separately, Kulaigye said the army, the UPDF was committed to remaining neutral in Uganda's forthcoming presidential poll.

President Yoweri Museveni, a former guerrilla, has in the past been accused of using the army to intimidate the populace to vote for him and soldiers to facilitate vote rigging.

The commander of armed forces, Lt. Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, was quoted earlier this year in the local media as saying the army would crush the opposition if they engaged in violence.

"The job of ensuring security in elections is for the Uganda Police and the UPDF recognises that Uganda is a multi-party democracy and respects all the political parties and their leaders. We take no sides at all," said Kulaigye.

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