Central African Republic says Kony is ready to surrender

Posted Nov 21, 2013 by Layne Weiss
Central African Republic's government says war criminal Joseph Kony wants to surrender, but US officials doubt that this is true.
A photo of Joseph Kony  leader of Uganda s Lord s Resistance Army
A photo of Joseph Kony, leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army
Chris Shultz
Central African Republic's president said Kony, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, has been in talks with the government, BBC News reports.
Kony and the LRA are known for hacking the lips and ears off their victims, and for turning children into sex slaves and soldiers, The AP reports.
The LRA has killed at least 33 people since January.
Central African Republic government spokesman Gaston Mackouzangba said Thursday that they believe Kony is currently in Nzako.
"The president said he had spoken by telephone with Joseph Kony who wants to lay down his arms," Mackouzangba told The AP. "The negotiations are ongoing."
The US State Department has offered up to a $15 million reward for any information to help get Kony arrested. They said Thursday that Central African Republic officials have been in contact with a small group of LRA fighters "that has expressed interest in surrendering" but Kony is not part of that group, BBC News reports.
"At this time, we have little reason to believe that Joseph Kony is part of this group," the State Department said noting that Kony and his senior commanders have used "any and every pretext to rest, regroup, and rearm, ultimately returning to kidnapping, killing, displacing and otherwise abusing civilian populations".
The Resolve, a US-based anti-LRA group, said reports of Kony wanting to surrender are based on talks between an LRA group near Nzako and local authorities, The AP reports. Resolve spokesman Michael Poffenberger says a few mid-level LRA leaders have expressed interest in "settling peacefully" in the area.
"They have referred to involvement from 'the big boss' but there has been no evidence of actual involvement from Kony in this process. On the contrary, there is some indication that the group may be acting independent of his direction," said Poffenberger, whose group helps run the LRA Crisis Tracker.
Uganda's military spokesman, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, expressed his pessimism Thursday that reported talks with Kony and his fighters were indeed true, noting that this is the third time there has been such reports.
Uganda has about 2,500 troops looking for Kony in CAR and the surrounding region, Ankunda said.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the CAR government told BBC News that Kony was in the country, but wanted guaranteed security before agreeing to surrender.
The CAR government also said it has sent medicine to Kony, and there are reports that he is seriously ill.