Joseph Kony, the notorious head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel militant group, is reportedly in poor health as he continues to avoid falling into the hands of regional and global military forces searching for the fugitive leader, according to an Associated Press report.
Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for Uganda's military, discussed the developments related to Kony's ailing health, which is believed to be a result of diabetes. The LRA formed in the late 1980s in Uganda, but has since exported its brand of violence to countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan.
Recent LRA defectors reportedly relayed the information to Ankunda after they gave themselves up to domestic military forces in the CAR. According to the Associated Press, Ankunda backed up the claims with previous reports gathered by Ugandan authorities that indicated Kony has diabetes.
Kony has led the LRA with the aim of ousting Uganda's government and replacing it with a system guided by the Ten Commandments. The group, founded in 1986 to ostensibly defend Uganda's Acholi ethnic group, quickly became infamous for recruiting child soldiers and massacring innocent civilians. The LRA is often referred to as a cult, while the US government classifies it as a terrorist group.
The US has been involved in the hunt for the rebel leader for years. President George W. Bush sent aid to Uganda, while also dispatching military advisers to the country for the purpose of training troops. President Barack Obama also sent advisors to Uganda in 2011, citing the impact on regional security as a result of atrocities committed by the LRA.
A viral YouTube video put out by the organization Invisible Children in 2012 brought Kony's actions back into the public mindset, with the video urging action to finally detain the leader by the end of that year.
Reports from defectors and intelligence agencies indicate that the strength of the rebel group has been dramatically reduced in recent years, possibly down to a couple hundred fighters. In January the group experienced a major blow when a top commander, Dominic Ongwen, surrendered to authorities in the CAR.
An international arrest warrant had been issued for Ongwen and a $5 million reward was offered for any information leading to his arrest.
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his connection to the guerrilla war his group has carried out largely in Uganda, but surrounding countries as well. There is also a $5 million reward offered for information that leads to his arrest. Groups like the Enough Project have reported that the rebel leader may be living in an area along the Sudan and South Sudan borders.
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