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Using US troops to arrest LRA leader Joseph Kony is a bad idea

LRA leader Joseph Kony should be arrested, but its not as easy as sending in US troops, which are not likely to be welcomed by locals, writes guest blogger Laura Seay.

By Laura SeayGuest blogger / October 14, 2010

One of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs, Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army, (L) is seen shaking hand with southern Sudan's vice president Riek Machar (R) in this image taken from Reuters TV in Nairobi, May 24, 2006.

Reuters TV

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This is not a good idea:

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... There is no better case for the humanitarian use of force than the urgent need to arrest Joseph Kony, the ruthless leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), and protect the civilians who are his prey. And far from requiring a non-consensual intervention, Kony's apprehension would be welcomed by the governments concerned.

The LRA began as a rebel movement in northern Uganda, but it now terrorizes the civilian population of northern Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as southern Sudan and the Central African Republic. Its cadre often descends on a remote village, slaughters every adult in sight, and then kidnaps the children, some shockingly young -- the boys to become soldiers slinging AK-47s, the girls to serve as "bush wives." Over more than two decades, many thousands have fallen victim to these roving mass murderers.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Kony and other LRA commanders, charging them with war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the court depends on governments to make arrests.

So far Uganda has done the most to pursue the LRA, but ineffectively. The LRA is not large -- an estimated 200 to 250 seasoned Ugandan combatants, plus at least several hundred abductees -- but as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently told me, Uganda lacks the special forces, expert intelligence, and rapid-deployment capacity needed to stamp out this enemy.

In May, Obama signed a bill committing the United States to help arrest Kony and his commanders and protect the affected population. Now it is high time to act. Arresting Kony would reaffirm that mass murder cannot be committed with impunity. And it would show that, despite the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the humanitarian use of force remains a live option at the Obama White House.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Africa bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.
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