ADDIS ABABA (AA) - Infamous guerrilla leader Joseph Kony is engaged in large-scale ivory smuggling to buy arms, a commander of a regional task force organized to eliminate Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) said Friday.
Lt. Colonel Dougueoua Olivier, deputy chief of the Joint African Union - Regional Task Force (RTF) told Anadolu Agency that “Kony’s LRA has killed most of the elephants in the Central African Republic already”.
The commander was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting between the African Union and chiefs of staff from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan -- countries affected by the LRA insurgency.
The meeting is to take stock of anti-LRA successes so far and tackle challenges of resources and coordination between the RTF and its partners.
The LRA was set up in 1987 by Kony who considers himself a 'spokesperson' of God. The movement started off with the intent of overthrowing the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
It now operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and in pockets of South Sudan. It is considered one of the most elusive and violent guerrilla groups on the continent.
Lt. Col. Olivier said: "Now they are going down in DRC, in Ngarambe Park; so they are poaching there. They kill elephants, they take their tusks and move to the north side of CAR in a region called Kaphia Kingi.
"That is where they are trading … they are doing their business for arms."
Asked if it was true Joseph Kony, who is rumored to be ill, had relinquished power to his son, Lt. Col. Olivier said: "We have that information but we use it only as such, as information."
According to him, Kony is using the politico-military crisis in CAR to sustain the Lord’s Resistance Army against a regional task force which chased it from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and other areas.
He said Kony’s forces are making use of a “gap of authority” created due to five years of political and military crisis in CAR to maintain his armies and to move along international borders.
Friday’s meeting concluded that the regional alliance had managed to "degrade Kony’s forces", but challenges remain, such as resources and co-ordination.
Karna Soro, political division chief at the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, told Anadolu Agency that the alliance should move faster and with better coordination and resources otherwise Kony would "outsmart" them.