The Threat of the Lord's Resistance Army in Africa
IMAGE- ENOUGH PROJECT VIA WIKIMEDIA
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is one of the longest lasting and most violent armed groups in Africa. The US State Department reports that it has operated since 1986; it was formed in northern Uganda to oppose Uganda’s government. It has a sordid and violent history, including the forcible recruitment of over 66,000 children for sex slaves and soldiers. The longevity and continued activity of the LRA can be attributed to its leader, Joseph Kony. The LRA was created due in part to the Holy Spirit Movement, which was founded in the 1980’s to represent the Acholi people of northern Uganda. Kony founded the LRA in order to combat Uganda’s government overseen by President Yoweri Museveni.
The Lord’s Resistance Army has never been a popular movement; it has never had the support of the citizenry in the countries in which it operates. Although it was created in Uganda, it has operated in the Central African Republic, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The supposed mandate of the LRA when it was conceived was to create a theocratic style state in Uganda based on the ten commandments of the Bible.
The armed status of the Lord's Resistance Army has been reduced to an almost insignificant amount; the Guardian reported after being chased across the Nile in 2005 the LRA has maybe around a few hundred fighters. Kony has been able to maintain control of the LRA
through a blend of fear, death, and mysticism. Kony to this day states that he is a medium of spirits and is able to communicate with them. A report by Lt. Col. Richard W. Skow detailed the spiritual beliefs of the LRA and the elaborate methods that Kony went through to maintain his aura of control and mysticism over his troops. Skow reported: “To start the possession Kony would dip his fingers into a clear glass of water. Multiple spirits would pass through Kony in a single session. On average at least three spirits would talk in a session.” In the report which was published in the Independent and also stated in Lt. Col Skow’s report, Kony put on extensive performances where he would be “possessed” by 13 different spirits of all ethnic backgrounds.
The destruction and poverty that the Lord’s Resistance Army has contributed and caused are extensive. 24.5% of Uganda’s citizen’s fall below the poverty line according to the CIA World Fact Book. The two-decade long conflict with the LRA has displaced over a half million people in central Africa. There were reports that in late 2013 Kony was attempting to negotiate with the Central African Republic for the terms of his surrender. However, many believe that this was merely a smoke screen so the LRA could shift its base of operations to the northern parts of the Central African Republic where ongoing tensions between Christians and Muslims would make it much more difficult for international authorities to locate him. Joseph Kony is still at large and being hunted through the jungles of Central Africa by a host of multinational troops. Kony is directly responsible for a multitude of atrocities and crimes against humanity. In the ongoing struggle for lasting peace and equality around the world, Paul Ronan, who manages the LRA Crisis Tracker has noticed an upward trend of the number of children abducted by the group's fighters most likely a means to rebuild their fighting strength. In order to restrict the group's movements, Ronan has suggested constructing their ability to sell poached ivory one of their main sources of revenue. The fight against the LRA continues to this very day, but hopefully, after three long decades, the nations of the world will find a way to stop the atrocities that are happening in Africa.