Lords Resistance Army (LRA) activity in central Africa has declined, supporting claims by the government of Uganda and the African Union (AU) that the LRA has been weakened. A string of defections has damaged the organization. Since May 2012, 19 Ugandan fighters in the LRA have defected (many are in the Congo and the Central African Republic, CAR). These defectors were long-time, hard core LRA members. However, the LRA still remains a deadly group of thugs. The villages they attack in the CAR and the Congo are basically defenseless. Villages that are outside the operational areas of the Ugandan Army are regarded as being particularly vulnerable. The LRA abducted over 500 people in 2012 and killed at least 50.
February 15, 2013: The Congolese Army will send 500 soldiers to help the Ugandan Army in its hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony. The AU (African Union)-coordinated anti-LRA force now has some 3,300 soldiers.
February 14, 2013: The government is considering developing alternative transportation routes to Indian Ocean seaports. At the moment, Uganda relies on the Kenyan port of Mombasa. However, violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008, effectively blocked Ugandan access to Mombasa. The government has said that it will build an inland port on Lake Victoria to handle shipments from Tanzania’s lake port of Musoma. Railroad lines connect Musoma to two Tanzanian seaports, Tanga and Dar es Salaam. Ugandan imports and exports would move by barge on Lake Victoria between Uganda’s lake port and Musoma. Tanzania intends to add and improve other rail connections. The Ugandan lake port will be built at Bukasa, which is south of Kampala.
February 12, 2013: Ugandan troops fighting the LRA in the CAR are attempting to strike at the organizations command structure. This is the strategy advocated by advisers to the AU-sponsored regional force combating the LRA in South Sudan, the Congo, and the CAR. The Ugandan Army recently acknowledged that the LRA may still have 150 to 200 active fighters. This is lower than the 200 figure mentioned in late 2012. The military believes that its information campaign encouraging LRA fighters to defect is having an effect. The information campaign includes radio broadcasts and leaflet drops by aircraft.
February 9, 2013: East African organizations that try to monitor illegal poaching in the region are reporting that elephant poaching to obtain ivory is increasing.
However, claims that the Lord’s Resistance Army is responsible for mass elephant killings are exaggerated. The likely suspects are other rebel groups operating in the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan’s Darfur region, and the CAR, though reports by Congolese game wardens that the LRA has poached elephants in the Congo’s Garamba National Park are documented. There are also numerous reports from freed LRA abductees that LRA senior commander Joseph Kony has ordered his fighters to kill elephants for their ivory. LRA fighters, however, are so scattered and hunted that many officials and wildlife protection groups believe it is difficult for the LRA to smuggle the ivory to buyers. One theory is that LRA ivory is given to local tribal chiefs in the CAR or in Darfur, who are providing protection for Kony and his men. The locals then sell the ivory to smugglers.
February 4, 2013: Political leaders from northern Uganda are encouraging the government to reorganize the repatriation and integration program that they contend is not working. Northern Uganda, particularly the areas occupied by the Acholi tribe, was the center of the LRA insurgency. The repatriation and integration programs were supposed to help war victims and former guerrillas return to civilian life. The political leaders want the government to create a special war victims compensation fund.
February 3, 2013: The European Union stated that the Ugandan military must stay out of politics. The EU statement followed rumors that the military was contemplating a coup. EU nations are major donors to Uganda.
January 27, 2013: President Yoweri Museveni allegedly told senior members of his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party that the Ugandan military will not allow what he called “confusion” in the Ugandan parliament to continue. The alleged comment by Museveni fueled more rumors that the military was going to launch a coup that would throw opposition members of parliament and some NRM parliamentarians out of power (and perhaps into jail).
January 21, 2013: Ugandan Army soldiers operating in the CAR reported that they killed a man (called Binani) known to be the chief bodyguard of LRA senior commander Joseph Kony, as well as a logistics expert.
January 19, 2013: Egypt and Uganda called for a meeting of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) member countries to discuss and find solutions to impending problems that are related to the sharing of the waters from River Nile. Egypt is worried about new dams being built by Ethiopia and increased use of water by upstream nations like South Sudan. Uganda is an ally of Ethiopia and South Sudan.
January 18, 2013: The government denied claims by Sudan that Uganda is aiding rebel movements inside Sudan. Sudan has filed diplomatic complaints against Uganda with the African Union and other regional political organizations.