Congo Watch: LRA's Kony in Sakure, a village at the Sudan-Congo border, 45km South of Yambio?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

LRA's Kony in Sakure, a village at the Sudan-Congo border, 45km South of Yambio?

According to Kony’s personal doctor Kotto Kpenze, Kony spent most of the past weeks in and out of ‘Nigeria’, a base he established in the Congolese jungle about 20 km from the Sudanese border.

Asked if they still received supplies, Kotto said Caritas had given them food and medicines in Nabanga in December. “I personally received the medicines.”

As for arms supplies, he said he had no knowledge of airdrops by the Khartoum Government or anybody else. He disclosed that the LRA raided a Congolese arms depot in the town of Faradje on Christmas Day. “The rebels stole a lot of guns, all Kalashnikovs, and three boxes of ammunition.”

Kotto Kpenze

Photo: Kony’s deputy Okot Odhiambo(left) and Kony’s personal doctor Kotto Kpenze

From Sunday Vision 04 April 2009 by Els de Temmerman
Joseph Kony’s deputy goes missing
OKOT Odhiambo, the Second-in-Command of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has not been communicating with his boss, Joseph Kony, since December and his whereabouts are unknown to the LRA leader.

This was revealed by Kony’s personal doctor, Kotto Kpenze, a 45-year-old medical assistant from the Central African Republic who was abducted by the LRA a year ago and escaped on Monday.

“Kony called his commanders for a meeting in December shortly after the joint military offensive started, when there were a lot of aerial bombardments and attacks by ground troops,” Kpenze told Sunday Vision in an exclusive interview in Yambio, Southern Sudan, on Thursday.

“But Odhiambo, who was leading a smaller group presumed to be behind us, did not show up for the meeting. Up to the day I escaped, Kony had not been able to establish contact with Odhiambo and he did not know his location.”

The information suggests a deepening rift between the LRA leader and his number two. Earlier press reports that Odhiambo had indicated he wanted to hand himself in with 40 fighters were dismissed by the UPDF.

However, the reports might have soured relations between the two leaders, with Odhiambo possibly fearing to meet the same fate as his predecessor, Vincent Otti. Otti was executed on October 2, 2007, according to defectors because he had advised his boss to sign the peace agreement and abandon rebellion, seen by Kony as a plot to have him arrested and killed.

For the same reason, Kony killed Vincent Otti’s predecessor, Otti Lagony, who was executed in December 1999 for suggesting to take advantage of the Amnesty Act.

The medical assistant from the Central African Republic, who spent the last 12 months with the LRA leader, also disclosed that Kony was generally in good health but would occasionally suffer from malaria and have regular attacks as a result of high tension.

“The tension bothered him the most. Whenever he received shocking news, he would collapse on the floor and I had to treat him with modern and traditional medicines,” he said.

Life in the bush had been tough ever since Operation Lightning Thunder started on December 14, according to Kony’s doctor.

“We were constantly on the move. UPDF soldiers were hot on our heels. They would be close to us all the time. We would eat at midnight and rest for two to three hours before starting to move again.”

Kpenze escaped on Monday, March 30, from Sakure, a village at the Sudan-Congo border, 45km South of Yambio, where Kony was still holed up a week ago.

“One of the commanders had been hit by a bullet in the leg. He was crying at night. Kony feared it would alert the enemy. He told me to hide him in the bush some distance away. I had to treat him from there. That is when I ran away.”

According to his doctor, Kony spent most of the past weeks in and out of ‘Nigeria’, a base he established in the Congolese jungle about 20 km from the Sudanese border.

“We would move away for a couple of nights but always returned to Nigeria. We stayed in thick forest and avoided homesteads since UPDF soldiers were passing through villages day and night.”

Kpenze estimated their group, which also included feared commander Dominic Ongwen, to be initially 800. This number included the women and babies born in captivity, among them Kony’s 42 wives and 25 children who are still with him.

In their group, the ‘doctor’ reckoned about 18 people had been killed and 30 wounded in the offensive, while many others escaped or were rescued.

Asked if they still received supplies, Kotto said Caritas had given them food and medicines in Nabanga in December. “I personally received the medicines.”

As for arms supplies, he said he had no knowledge of airdrops by the Khartoum Government or anybody else. He disclosed that the LRA raided a Congolese arms depot in the town of Faradje on Christmas Day. “The rebels stole a lot of guns, all Kalashnikovs, and three boxes of ammunition.”

Faradje is beyond the area where the UPDF was allowed to operate under the joint offensive of the armies of Congo, Uganda and Southern Sudan, which ended on March 14 when President Joseph Kabila ordered Uganda to leave Congo.

Asked how Kony managed to escape once again, Kpenze said he had a unique survival instinct and knew the forest in and out.

“He would send small groups of rebels in different directions to divert the attention of our pursuers. These units would often be attacked, while Kony would be in the middle and safe.”

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