The Ugandan soldier is still at large despite a $5 million bounty on his head for war crimes committed between 1987 and 2006.
Eleven years ago, a documentary propelled the name of Joseph Kony onto the world stage. THE controversial film Kony 2012 told the story of a Ugandan warlord whose forces are considered by the United Nations responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people, the abduction of at least 000 children and the displacement of more than two million people.
While most countries in the world had not yet heard of Kony, Ugandans knew and feared him. The founder of theLord's Resistance Army sparked a wave of violence in northern Uganda for two decades.
In 2005,, the International Criminal Court has brought charges of crimes against humanity against Kony and four of his top commanders. In 2013, et 2021, the United States announced a $5 million bounty for information leading to Kony's capture.
He is still at large.
The International Criminal Court now wants confirm charges against Kony in his absence. It is hoped that this will relaunch international efforts to find Africa's most wanted fugitive.
So who is Joseph Kony?
Kony's parents were farmers. His father was Catholic, his mother Anglican. Kony has beenaltar boy until 1976. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 to become a traditional healer.
In 1987, at the age of 26, Kony founded theLord's Resistance Army, a fundamentalist Christian organization that operated in northern Uganda until 2006.
The altar boy turned rebel leader
Kony rose to fame after taking over the Movement of the Holy Spirit, a rebel group led by Alice Lakwena, his aunt, with the aim of overthrowing the Ugandan government.
The Holy Spirit Movement was established after Ugandan President Tito Okello, Acholi, was overthrown by the National Resistance Army, led by Yoweri Museveni, in January 1986. The Acholi largely occupy northern Uganda.
Museveni's National Resistance Army was a rebel organization that later morphed into Uganda People's Defense Force. Today it is the national army.
When it came to power, the National Resistance Army seemed deliberately target the Acholi people in the north. The villagers have been violently attacked by army troops and subjected to food shortages. Houses were burnt down, leading to forced displacement. The scale of these attacks has never been documented or justified.
Kony created theLord's Resistance Army and proclaimed himself a prophet of his people. He soon turned on his followers, allegedly in an effort to "purify" the Acholi and transform Uganda in theocracy.
Ideologically, the group espoused a mixture of mysticism, Acholi nationalism and Christian fundamentalism. He claimed to establish a theocratic state based on 10 commandments scriptures and the Acholi tradition.
Kony proclaimed himself to be God's spokesman. He claims to have been visited by a multinational group of 13 spirits, including a Chinese ghost.
Kony's military offensive
Kony and his rebel group committed a series of atrocities against civilians. The group waged war for more than two decades in Uganda, then in politically unstable neighboring countries of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic, with the aim of overthrowing Museveni. The actual number of militia members has fluctuated over this period, peaking at 3 soldiers in the early 000s.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the US government designated the Lord's Resistance Army as a terrorist group.
In 2005, the International Criminal Court [issued arrest warrants against top commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanity.
In August 2008, the United States has declared Kony a Global Terrorist, a designation that carries financial and other sanctions.
The Lord's Resistance Army was eventually driven out of Uganda following the failure of the Juba peace talks of 2006-2008 between the leaders of the group and the Ugandan government. These talks were mediated by the government of South Sudan.
Kony's rebel group attacked Congolese civilians suspected of supporting the operation. Villagers have been raped, their limbs mutilated and hundreds of people killed. The group finally broke up to evade capture, with most of its members fleeing to the Central African Republic.
Uganda ended the operation in March 2009, declaring that the Lord's Resistance Army was at its weakest point.
En November 2013, the authorities of the Central African Republic indicated that Kony was ready to negotiate his surrender. He was reportedly in poor health in Nzoka, a town in the eastern region of the country. He never showed up.
In 2017,, the rebel group had only about a hundred soldiers left. In April the same year, the U.S. and Ugandan governments ended efforts to find Kony. They said he no longer posed a significant security risk to Uganda. But he is still wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Some Lord's Resistance Army fighters took advantage of the Ugandan amnesty program of 2000, which offered blanket immunity to any rebel who had taken up arms against the government since 1986.
As attempts to bring Kony to justice continue, post-conflict northern Uganda is on the slow way economic and social recovery.