Ugandan troops and roughly 100 advisors from U.S. Special Forces have suspended their search for Joseph Kony, the infamous leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, in the Central African Republic, following the overthrow of that country’s government by another rebel group.
Ugandan officials blamed the “Seleka” rebel coalition, who captured the CAR’s capital Bangui last month, for obstructing the African Union force hunting Kony, which consists mostly of Ugandan troops. Michael Djotodia, the Seleka rebel leader, recently demanded that all foreign troops leave the CAR.
Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye was quoted as saying, “The Seleka rebels have not been cooperating with us since they took over power. We have been forced to suspend operations until further notice.” Another high-ranking Ugandan officer said the rebels had been “openly hostile to us and following that, the [Ugandan] president has ordered us only to be in defensive positions.”
The Ugandan troops will return to their bases in CAR until the African Union can guarantee cooperation from the Seleka rebels. That may be difficult, as the AU doesn’t currently recognize the Seleka rebels as the legitimate government of CAR. Meanwhile a U.S. embassy official in Uganda was quoted as saying: “We have temporarily paused the operations against LRA to give us time to consult with the State Department.”
Last year Kony became a household name thanks to one of the most successful viral social media strategies in history, centered on a half-hour documentary produced by Invisible Children, “Kony 2012,” which described his crimes and called for his capture.
Currently the Invisible Children Web site is dominated by an “action alert,” noting the recent developments in CAR and encouraging visitors to petition U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue diplomatic solutions that will allow hunt for Kony to continue.