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Why Uganda Has Failed to Defeat the Lord's Resistance Army

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Journal article

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The Lords Resistance Army LRA was derived from a Christian cult formed by Alice Lakwena to oppose the government of Yoweri Museveni who had seized power in Uganda in 1986. Following several serious defeats in 1987 of the Holy Spirit Battalion, as her rebels were then known, Lakwena fled to a refugee camp in Kenya. One of her followers, however, Joseph Kony, took the remnants of the force and formed the LRA. They launched raids across northeastern Uganda, abducting numerous children along the way. The captured boys, besides serving as soldiers, were forced to participate in acts of torture as well as execution-style murders of would-be escapees. Female abductees became abused servants and wives, and were subjected to forced sexual slavery, with many becoming pregnant and giving birth in the bush. Estimates vary widely as to the present-day strength of the LRA, from a few hundred to several thousand. Though relatively small in numbers, their tactics of abducting children instill fear in the population, resulting in approximately 1.5 million internally displaced persons IDPs, essentially destabilizing a significant portion of northern Uganda. The LRAs original mission of overthrowing the government appears at times to have become subordinate to Konys mysticism, including his claim to be in contact with certain spiritual forces. As one newspaper wrote, the LRA have often seemed more like a bizarre cult than a guerrilla movement because of their seemingly mindless atrocities against civilians and lack of political agenda. Konys stated objective remains, however, to depose President Yoweri Museveni. He would replace the government with one based on the Ten Commandments, though how he reconciles his brutality with his religious beliefs is difficult to understand. In March 2003, Kony announced a unilateral ceasefire. President Museveni initially rejected it but eventually responded with a ceasefire limited to certain areas.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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