November 9, 2003
Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Lord's Resistance Army Terrorizes Northern Uganda

KAMPALA - The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has terrorized northern Uganda since 1988 in its attempt to bring down the government of President Yoweri Museveni and put in its place a regime based on the Biblical Ten Commandments.

The LRA, the oldest and best known of the Ugandan rebel groups, is active along the frontier with Sudan and carries out most of its attacks in the northeast of the East African country.

The war, marked by the mutilation of civilians and the abduction of thousands of children into the LRA's ranks, has caused tens of thousands of deaths and driven some 1.2 million people from their homes.

After a couple of years of relative calm, the conflict has flared up again since 2002.

The fighting broke out shortly after Museveni rose to power in 1986, when the voodoo priestess Alice Lakwena took up arms to topple the new regime.

At the head of her Holy Spirit Movement, which mixed Christian and animist beliefs, she threatened the regime until the defeat of her followers by the army at the end of 1987.

Kakwena was succeeded in 1988 by an acolyte and relative, Joseph Kony, who headed first the United Christian Democrat Army of Uganda and then the Lord's Resistance Army, composed of remnants of the Holy Spirit Movement.

The army's principal means of recruitment is the abduction of village children. The adolescent males are forced to fight, while the girls are forced to become sex slaves for the army commanders. . . .

In nearly 16 years of fighting, more than 20,000 children have been used as soldiers.

The LRA and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have long been at the root of discord between Uganda and Sudan, which broke diplomatic relations in 1995. . . .


"SPLA Responsible for Sudan's Lost Boys," The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, January 21, 2001

[The US is directly involved in the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda--Martin Plaut, "US to increase African military presence," BBC News, March 23, 2004]

[In the villages of northern Uganda, Joseph Kony is the stuff of nightmares. A self-proclaimed mystic with a garbled pseudo-Christian ideology, this is a man who spirits children away from their parents at the dead of night and steals their innocence forever. Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that has fought the Ugandan government for 18 years in a war that has killed more than 23,000 people and forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes.--Meera Selva, "The mystic and his brutal army of child soldiers," Independent, July 30, 2004]

[Peace would open northern Uganda to greater oil and mineral exploration--Katy Pownall, "Uganda ceasefire ends 2 decades of war," Associated Press, August 29, 2006]

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