L.R.A.: Uhm, We’re Done. Let’s Talk Peace?

Photo of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, by Sam Farmar.
Joseph Kony, the kooky and brutal leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA], claims he wants peace and Ten Commandmants. (Photo: Sam Farmar via The Times)

When was the last time Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony gave an interview or allowed himself to be videotaped for a news program or offered to talk about peace?

Never.

This cult leader, who says spirits talk to him, is accused of slaughtering and mutilating more than 10,000 people, abducting 25,000 to 30,000 children and forcing a million people to flee. His arch-enemy, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has already rejected any offer of talks.
It took freelance reporter Sam Farmar 12 days to get to Mr. Kony’s hideout in the thick jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Belgian Congo). He was escorted there by Riek Machar, vice president of southern Sudan, and 40 of his security personnel.

In the interview to be broadcast tonight by Newsnight on BBC2, the rebel leader says:

If Museveni can agree to talk with me it is only a very good thing, which I know will bring peace to the people of Uganda.

Mr. Museveni, a former rebel leader himself, is also accused of countless human rights violations and rolling back democracy even though his transgressions are considered less serious than those of Idi Amin, the dictator he ousted. Still, Mr. Museveni had a clear hand in laying the groundwork for what would snowball into the Rwandan genocide.

The president with a checkered past has ruled out any peace negotiations with the L.R.A., but he has offered Mr. Kony to stop his rebellion by the end of July in exchange for his safety. That could be a tough sell to the cautious rebel leader when Mr. Museveni has persecuted his own friends and allies.

When asked by Mr. Farmar about village massacres and cutting off lips and limbs, Mr. Kony denied the charges and accused Mr. Museveni’s own forces of committing the atrocities and blaming him.

If Mr. Kony ends up at the International Criminal Court [ICC] to respond to indictments against him, there is a possibility that other Ugandans, like Mr. Museveni himself, may be indicted on crimes against humanity. But Mr. Museveni has friends, like President George W. Bush of the United States, which is not a signatory to the I.C.C. charter.

Mr. Kony said he was fighting for a “free” Uganda and for “Ten Commandments.” Of course, the spirits are still talking to him.

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