As Uganda Withdraws From AU Mission, Is Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army Finished?

As Uganda Withdraws From AU Mission, Is Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army Finished?
Ugandan troops hunting down the Lord's Resistance Army patrol the town of Zemio, Central African Republic, June 25, 2014 (AP photo by Rodnet Muhumuza).

Uganda is pulling out of the hunt for Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), taking with it the best hopes of eliminating the militia once regarded as one of the world’s most brutal. The withdrawal of the roughly 2,500 Ugandan troops from an African Union military mission, which is set to be completed by the end of the year, comes with a recognition of the LRA’s diminished stature after years of being on the run in Central Africa. But the move has also raised fears that the group could rebuild some of its strength and take advantage of a power vacuum left by a diminished AU mission.

The Uganda People’s Defense Force announced earlier this year that it was withdrawing from the AU’s four-year-old Regional Task Force, citing sufficient gains against the LRA and inadequate support from its partner countries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan. It has been a decade since the LRA was forced out of northern Uganda and into the remote wilderness and borderlands of Central Africa, leaving a trail of murder, abductions and other atrocities in its wake. Yet the well-trained Ugandan army, including special forces, has continued to provide the bulk of the military might against a rebel group that no longer poses a direct threat to Uganda.

The withdrawal effectively guts the AU’s force. None of the remaining countries have the militaries to sustain it, and they have all been consumed by their own domestic strife. The international mission targeting Kony and the LRA will be left in the lurch.

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