Warlord Joseph Kony and his militarized terror group the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are likely getting shelter from the Sudanese government in Darfur, according to credible reports coming out of Sudan, the Enough Project said as Hillary Clinton arrived in South Sudan on Friday to show her support for the world's newest independent country.
If it's true that Kony is under Sudan's wing, it could mean terrible things for the already fragile peace treaty between South Sudan and its neighbor to the north, from which it separated just last July.
The US is a primary partner in keeping the peace, which was established in 2005 after a decades-long civil war. Sec. Clinton stopped in the South Sudanese capital of Juba to discuss peaceably resolving a disagreement about oil that has threatened to reignite tensions between the two countries. The two independent states were recently granted a reprieve from a UN deadline to decide on a way forward for peace that expired Thursday. If they don't come to an agreement, both countries face sanctions. [Editor's note: An agreement on oil was announced Saturday.]
"While South Sudan and Sudan have become separate states, their fortunes and their futures remain inextricably linked," Clinton said at a news conference, reported the AP. "Now it is urgent that both sides, north and south, follow through and reach timely agreements on all outstanding issues. The people of South Sudan expect it."
However, if Kony and the multiple "sub-groups" under his command are in fact in Sudan, it could mean disaster for South Sudan.
Many believe the LRA — who run crime rings and commit atrocities spanning numerous African countries — could be used as a proxy army against South Sudan in a battle over oil. The Sudanese government has a history of supporting the organization with money, guns, and safe haven over the years.
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The anti-genocide activist group Enough Project said an LRA abductee claimed Kony was in Darfur, while Sudan's UN ambassador abruptly pulled the country's support for a joint UN-African Union mandate for a mission in Darfur this week.
"That the LRA could be in Sudan supplied by Khartoum is well within the realm of possibility. The Sudanese government began supplying the LRA in 1994, providing weapons, ammunition, training, and military bases, while allegedly halting its assistance in 2005," wrote Enough Project's LRA Policy Analyst Ashley Brenner in the Huffington Post on Wednesday. "Kony ordered his commanders to move to Darfur in 2009, and LRA forces met with Sudan's army the following year."
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The US has committed a substantial number of troops to combat the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
“Efforts to end the LRA are facing fundamental challenges," said Enough Project field researcher Kasper Agger in Kampala. "The US has deployed 100 special forces to ‘advise and assist,' but without access to the safe heavens, the end of the LRA is out of sight. The US must intensify diplomatic efforts to ensure that the Ugandans have access to Congo, commit more special forces to fight the LRA and persuade Sudan to become part of the solution, and stop sheltering the LRA.”