US President Barrack Obama has ordered the deployment of an additional 150 Special Forces and aircraft to boost the hunt for the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leader Joseph Kony in the thick jungles of central Africa. The deployment comes just weeks after the US government threatened to “review” its bilateral relations with Uganda after President Museveni signed the law that criminalises homosexuality.
But the Public Affairs officer at American Embassy, Mr Daniel Travis, told the Daily Monitor yesterday that his country can help protect both rights of LRA war victims and sexual minorities.
“Ensuring justice and accountability for human rights violators like the LRA and protecting LGBT rights aren’t mutually exclusive. We can and must do both. We continue to look at additional steps we may take to work to protect LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination, and to urge Uganda to repeal this abhorrent law,” he said.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces welcomed the deployment of extra forces that brings the officially acknowledged number of American troops participating in the LRA hunt to 250.
“We have bilateral relations with the US to end the LRA insurgency and we are still looking for him (Kony). We welcome any extra effort that comes to help us end this problem,” UPDF spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, said yesterday.
Mr Travis said the deployment of CV-22 Osprey aircraft will enable quick troop movement in the war theatre.
“Our African partners have consistently identified airlift as one of their greatest limiting factors as they search for and pursue the remaining LRA leaders across a wide swath of one of the world’s most remote regions,” he said. The Americans help the African Regional Task Force that includes Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and DR Congo to gather intelligence on the LRA and its elusive leader.
The Enough Project’s Ugandan researcher on LRA, Mr Kasper Agger, yesterday observed that the CV-22 Osprey is “a decisive game changer”. “The US and their African partner forces will now be able to act swiftly to apprehend Kony who continues to terrorise civilians in remote corners of central Africa. The deployment confirms US resolve to the mission and sends a strong signal about the Obama administration’s commitment to atrocity prevention,” he said.