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The Lord's Resistance Army

The Lord's Resistance Army

Adam Branch | Andrew Mwenda | Kristof Titeca | Sverker Finnström | Mareike Schomerus | Christopher Blattman | Jeannie Annan | Ben Mergelsberg | Sandrine Perrot | Ronald R. Atkinson | Simon Simonse | Willemijn Verkoren | Gerd Junne | Matthew Brubacher | Tim Allen | Koen Vlassenroot


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The Lord's Resistance Army is Africa’s most persistent and notorious 'terrorist' group. Led by the mysterious Joseph Kony, it has committed a series of horrific human rights abuses, including massacres and mutilations. Since the mid 1980s, it has abducted tens of thousands of people, including large numbers of children forced to train as fighters. The IC in 2005 issued warrants for Kony and his top commanders, and the United States is backing a military campaign against the group. But the LRA survives, continuing to inspire both fascination and fear. Authoritative but provocative, The Lord’s Resistance Army provides the most comprehensive analysis of the group available. From the roots of the violence to the oppressive responses of the Ugandan government and the failures of the international community, this collection looks at this most brutal of conflicts in fascinating depth, and includes a remarkable first-hand interview with Kony himself.
Tim Allen is Professor in Development Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His publications include the best selling textbook, Poverty and Development (2000), as well as books on ethnic conflict in Europe, media coverage of wars, links between culture and development issues, and mass forced displacement in Africa. In 2005 he directed a six month study on the experiences of people who have been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. His latest books have been Trial Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Lord's Resistance Army (Zed 2006), and Complex emergencies and Humanitarian Responses (2009). In addition to academic work, he has worked as a consultant with numerous international organisations, including UNDP, UNICEF, UNRISD, MSF, LWF, Save the Children, World Vision and DFID. He is also a broadcaster and has presented or contributed to numerous radio programmes for the Open University and the BBC. Koen Vlassenroot is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Ghent, where he also coordinates the Conflict Research Group. He is also the Director of the Central Africa Programme of Egmont, the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels.
'For those interested in a critical alternative to the official line from the ICC, this is a collection to read. It brings together a range of scholars, bright and bold, from within and outside the continent, joined by a shared commitment to a future for Africa beyond crime and punishment.' Mahmood Mamdani, author of Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror 'The atrocities by the LRA left behind a legacy which will not die. This book gives the true account about the war, with no stone left untouched.' Adrawa Lawrence Dulu, African Development and Peace Initiative 'Why bad things happen in Africa. ... there are no excuses for Joseph Kony and his bestial 'Christianity', but there are reasons for it rooted in the politics and history of Uganda and its neighbours. This book goes beyond the simplistic media stereotypes to provide the best analysis yet of how these child-abusers continue to defy international justice.' Geoffrey Robertson, author of Crimes Against Humanity 'This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the conflict in Uganda and in "terror" more generally.' David Keen, author of Complex Emergencies 'One could not desire a more comprehensive, wide-ranging yet coherent, deeply informed discussion of the Lord's Resistance Army than the one Allen and Vlassenroot have put together. This volume is more than "essential" and "required". It is utterly brilliant.' Kevin Dunn, author of Imagining the Congo 'This masterful, long-awaited and much-needed book transcends political agendas and uninformed stereotyping to present an astute and balanced analysis of the Lord's Resistance Army. The skilful assembling of expertise and insight from the key analysts of the LRA into a single publication makes this an essential read for researchers, practitioners, and students seeking to understand the LRA.' Nana Poku, University of Bradford 'The conflict in northern Uganda has seemingly defied coherent explanation for the past two decades, yet in this insightful, compelling and compassionate book we at last have a definitive work on the strange phenomena that is the Lord's Resistance Army. Every essay here is contributes to our understanding of the political and social forces that have created and sustained Joseph Kony and his followers. If ever a group of international writers have provided an 'insider's account' of an African struggle, then this is surely it.' David Anderson, University of Oxford 'A fascinating and revealing collection.' Harry Johnstone, Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
About the editors i
Plates\r ii
1 Joseph Kony and one of his surviving senior commanders, Okot Odhiambo, posing for photographs in Ri-Kwangba ii
2 Two young LRA guerrillas take basic commodities and utensils back to their hideout in the DRC’s Garamba jungle xii
3 Amuru internally displaced persons’ camp 22
4 LRA guerrilla soldiers stand guard during a meeting between Vincent Otti and Dr Riek Machar 24
5 Consolata Achelem of Unyama displacement camp 90
6 Joseph Kony during peace talks at Ri-Kwangba 92
7 The family of Raska Lukwiya mourning his death 186
8 A returned LRA rebel takes part in a cleansing ceremony 278
Maps viii
Districts of Northern Uganda affected by the LRA up to 2005 viii
Lord’s Resistance Army main areas of operation, 2002–10 ix
Location of peace talks and LRA attacks, 2006–09 x
Introduction 1
Historical background on the Uganda/Sudan border 3
Uganda after independence 6
The Holy Spirit Movement 7
Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army 9
Anti-insurgency and talks 1988–96 11
Amnesty and ‘Iron Fist’ 13
Forced displacement 14
Referral to the International Criminal Court 15
The current situation 17
Acknowledgements 21
PART ONE Interpretations of Uganda’s war in the north 23
1| Exploring the roots of LRA violence: politicalcrisis and ethnic politics in Acholiland 25
Introduction 25
Background to crisis 26
NRA occupation and the rise of the UPDA 32
The Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) 36
The Lord’s Resistance Army and anti-civilian political violence 38
Conclusion: resolving the crises, ending the war 43
2 | Uganda’s politics of foreign aid and violent conflict: the political uses of the LRA rebellion 45
Economic reform and political consolidation 46
The transformation of the army 47
The transformation of rebellion 48
Rebellion and the politics of economic reform 49
The war and electoral competition 53
Dynamics of the rebellion 55
Conclusion 56
3 | The spiritual order of the LRA 59
Introduction 59
Strategic functions of the spiritual order in the LRA 62
Conclusion: the spiritual order in a dynamic perspective 71
4 | An African hell of colonial imagination? The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, another story 74
The debated background 77
Fragments of non-understanding 79
Other imaginings of Africa 80
When you can do nothing … 82
Versions of the reality 84
Without closure: global politics at the peripheries? 88
PART TWO Experiencing the LRA 91
5 | Chasing the Kony story 93
Introduction 93
The chase 94
Agreements and delays 97
The road to Ri-Kwangba 99
Arrival at the LRA camp 102
Getting the news out 105
Journalism and abuse of trust 109
6 | ‘A terrorist is not a person like me’: an interview with Joseph Kony 113
A meeting over breakfast 113
What is a terrorist? 113
‘We did not kill’ 116
‘I did not abduct anybody’ 118
‘They want Acholi to remain poor’ 120
‘A clean war is known to God only’ 122
‘I am not guilty’ 127
‘I am a freedom fighter’ 129
7 | On the nature and causes of LRA abduction: what the abductees say 132
Introduction 132
Data: the Survey of War Affected Youth 133
The scale and incidence of abduction 134
Table 7.1 Self-reported abduction experiences from returned former abductees 136
Figure 7.1 Distribution of LRA abductions of males by age of abduction 138
Command and control within the LRA 139
The strategic value of adolescent abduction 144
Figure 7.2 Length of abduction, by age of abduction 148
Figure 7.3 Probability that an abductee was rescued (versus escaping) 149
Figure 7.4 Probability that an abductee who escaped knew his location at the time of escape 149
Figure 7.5 Probability that the youth ‘ever felt allegiance to Kony’ 150
Figure 7.6 Probability that the youth ‘ever felt like staying with the LRA’ 151
Figure 7.7 Probability that a youth ‘was considered a dependable memberof the group’ 152
Figure 7.8 Probability that an abductee was allowed to keep a gun 152
Figure 7.9 Probability that the youth reports ever killing (soldiers and civilians) 153
Discussion and conclusions 153
8 | Between two worlds: former LRA soldiers in northern Uganda 156
Introduction 156
Fieldwork 157
Experience of forced recruitment 158
Spiritual beliefs and practices 159
Part of the LRA 162
Escape 163
Back ‘home’ 164
Discussion 166
Transition into the LRA 167
‘Mindless’ violence 169
Transition back ‘home’ 170
Helpless children? 171
Traumatized children? 172
Conclusion 175
9 | Encountering Kony: a Madi perspective 177
PART THREE Peace and justice 185
10 | Northern Uganda: a ‘forgotten conflict’, again? The impact of the internationalization of the resolution process 187
A late internationalization of the conflict 188
From ‘invisible children’ to highly visible teenagers 188
A major shift in Uganda’s diplomatic landscape 190
‘Naive’ versus realist donors 191
The emergent donors: a ‘UNly incorrect style’ 193
The UN intervention: a matter of communication policy? 195
Which path for conflict resolution? 197
The end of a blind-eye diplomacy? 200
Conclusion 203
11 | ‘The realists in Juba’? An analysis of the Juba peace talks 205
Historical background 205
Developments leading to the Juba peace talks 208
The first six months of the Juba talks – achievements and difficulties 214
Resumption of the Juba talks (March–May 2007) 217
The unravelling of the Juba peace process 219
12 | NGO involvement in the Juba peace talks: the role and dilemmas of IKV Pax Christi 223
Introduction 223
The role of NGOs in peace negotiations 223
Start of Pax Christi’s involvement 225
The ICC arrest warrants 227
The run-up to Juba 228
The Juba negotiations 231
The back-channel talks in Mombasa and Nairobi 233
Dilemmas 236
Concluding reflections: NGOs in peace processes 239
13 | Bitter roots: the ‘invention’ of Acholi traditional justice 242
Drinking the bitter root 244
The reification of rituals 249
The ‘invention’ of traditional justice 252
Dilemmas of hybrid accountability 254
Prospects for Acholi traditional justice 257
Conclusion 260
14 | The ICC investigation of the Lord’s Resistance Army: an insider’s view 262
Peace and accountability: the dual purpose of international criminal courts 263
The tensions between accountability and peace 264
The legal regime of the Rome Statute 266
Investigating the situation regarding northern Uganda 268
LRA activity during the ICC investigation 272
Figure 14.1 LRA crime base analysis in northern Uganda 273
Making justice a component of peace 277
Postscript: a kind of peace and an exported war 279
Christmas 279
Ending internal displacement 282
An exported war 284
Notes 289
Introduction and Chapter 1 289
Chapter 2 292
Chapter 3 293
Chapter 4 295
Chapter 5 296
Chapter 6 299
Chapter 7 300
Chapter 8 303
Chapter 10 305
Chapter 11 310
Chapter 12 315
Chapter 13 316
Chapter 14 320
Postscript 323
Bibliography 325
Notes on the contributors 342
Index 347