Elusive Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has renewed contact with the Ugandan government, seeking an immediate ceasefire and resumption of peace talks, according to veteran journalist, Andrew Mwenda.
According to a tweet sent by Mwenda, Kony has even listed names of the team President Museveni should send to negotiate with him, among them deputy speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader has on several occasions written to president Museveni asking for peace talks but it has always hit a hard rock.
Since its rebellion began in 1987, the LRA is widely thought to have been responsible for the regular abduction of children, torture and mutilation of civilians, and the pillaging of villages in northern Uganda.
It’s important to note that these peace talks were aborted in 2008.
The talks were ostensibly unsuccessful because Kony feared that he would be turned over to the International Criminal Court, which has a warrant out for his arrest.
Since then, he has cut a bloody swathe across the Northern Democratic Republic of Congo, eventually settling in an area of dense forest straddling the DRC, Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
The LRA is a semi-mystical group that grew out of the ruins of the Holy Spirit Movement in Uganda, which was led by Alice Lakwena, a reputed witch. Lakwena, who died in Kenya in 2007, was said to be possessed by several spirits, including various dead Italians. Her violent millennial movement came in reaction to the end of Acholi power in Uganda when Yoweri Museveni became president in 1986.
Kony claimed kinship to Lakwena and adopted several mystical devices to manage the LRA. This includes citing the Ten Commandments in its plans, spirit possession and the adoption of different spirits into a very specific cosmology, including both Allah and Jesus.
The emphasis on cosmology has been an integral part of the violence and brainwashing that has been the hallmark of the LRA itself. The group operates a regime of kidnapping of children and is reported to have taken up to 100,000 in its history. These children are then brutalised and become loyal followers.
The most common method of binding the children to the LRA cause is reportedly to wait until one child tries to escape and is captured. Former rebels report that the others are forced to kill the escapee, sometimes in extremely brutal ways, such as by biting them to death. These young children are then told that they cannot go back to their original homes and that the LRA is now their family.
Whilst the LRA itself was chased across the Nile in 2005 and effectively exiled from Uganda in 2008, they later continued to terrorise local communities in the DRC and Sudan and to poach elephants for ivory before they settled in the CAR.