Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Kony Returns to Sudan Base

By Oketch Bitek and Irene Nabwire

The Monitor (Kampala)

GULU — Joseph Kony has finally crossed back into southern Sudan.

President Yoweri Museveni last week said that the leader of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army rebels was trapped at the border after the UPDF foiled his earlier attempts to cross into the Sudan, where the LRA is said to have its rear bases.

But in Gulu, military officials last night said that Kony had crossed back into the Sudan with 600 rebel fighters.

Senior military officers on Sunday told a press conference in Gulu army barracks that Kony’s mission in the Sudan was to renew his supplies, especially of weapons.

Kony reportedly re-entered Sudan from Kitgum district near the Atebi riverbank on August 21.
An LRA fighter, David Oneka, who has now handed himself over to the UPDF, said that he had met Kony by the riverbank.

He claims that Kony knows him personally, having been part of the rebel leader’s security detail.

Kony reportedly recognised him and demanded to know where he was going.

Oneka reportedly lied that he was doing reconnaissance with 10 other rebels who were on the other side of the river.

Kony moved on with his battalion and wives.

Oneka suspects Kony’s destination in Sudan is the LRA’s new camp at Rubanga-Odwogo – Luo for ‘God has returned’.

Supplies from Sudan

Oneka supported the army’s earlier allegations that the Sudanese army still gives arms and other supplies to the LRA rebels.

He claimed that Sudanese military officials visit LRA camps on the 15th and 28th of every month.

The Rubanga-Odwogo camp is reportedly under ‘Maj.’ Vincent Binansio. It has about 125 fighters, plus 300 women and children.

Oneka said that Sudan recently supplied the LRA rebels with sub-machine guns, boxes of ammunition, 86 B10 bombs, and 42 SPG9 guns, anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and Milan guns (anti-tank destroyers).

He said that the Milan guns have not yet been used against the UPDF because the ‘Arabs’ (meaning Sudan government forces) have not taught the LRA how to operate them.

Oneka said that he has been to many places in Sudan with Kony – including to Juba, Umm Durmân and Khartoum.

Under the watchful eyes of UPDF officers, Oneka told journalists that the Sudan government has renovated Kony’s house in Juba and handed it back to the rebel leader’s family there.

Sudanese officials have also reportedly given Kony two more new vehicles; a Toyota pick-up truck and a lorry painted army green.

The last time Oneka visited, the vehicles were parked at Kony’s residence in Juba.

Museveni’s view

Oneka spoke to journalists in the presence of the army’s 4 Division Commanding Officer, Col. Nathan Mugisha, Operation Iron Fist intelligence chief, Lt. Col. Charles Otema and the Gulu-based military spokesman, Lt. Paddy Ankunda.

Mugisha told journalists that Uganda’s problem is not the LRA. “The problem of Uganda is somewhere else,” Mugisha said in an apparent reference to the Sudan.

“What keeps this war going is the link between Kony and Sudan? Politicians here [in the north] are also a problem,” the colonel said.

Mugisha was obviously echoing President Museveni’s recent line that politicians from Acholi are “shallow-minded” – unlike their counterparts in Lango and Teso who are mobilising their people to rise up against the LRA rebels.

Asked whether the Khartoum government had renewed support for the LRA rebels to avenge Uganda’s continued backing for the SPLA rebels in southern Sudan, Mugisha denied that any such assistance was being given.

He said that all the Sudanese driving in and around Kampala are refugees. Sudan embassy officials in Kampala yesterday refused to respond to Oneka’s claims or to the UPDF’s latest accusations.

One embassy official simply said: “We do not want to say anything. There Is really nothing about all this. We suspect the UPDF is simply up to something else.”

Oneka told journalists that he spent two years in a Khartoum hospital after the rebels broke his jaws in 1998 when he tried to escape.

Sudanese military officers reportedly took him to Khartoum for treatment. The rebel fighter handed himself over to the UPDF on August 23 at the Uganda-Sudan border after contemplating suicide.

When Oneka finally gave up the idea of shooting himself, he came across two elderly men and a boy hunting.

He tried to put the trio at gunpoint but they fled in various directions abandoning an edible rat, which he gleefully picked for his supper.

So what does Oneka want to do with the rest of his life now? The former rebel fighter wants to become a driver, a skill he was taught in the Sudan.