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Profile: LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen Surrenders

Dominic Ongwen has reportedly surrendered after spending over 20 years in the bush

A rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) defector claiming to be Dominic Ongwen, tadalafil http://chios.ro/wp-includes/class-wp-roles.php the second-in-command after Joseph Kony, information pills http://cdkstone.com.au/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/includes/class-wc-product-simple.php has surrendered to U.S. Special Forces in the town of Obo in the East of Central Africa.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted as telling international media on Tuesday night that, http://ceris.ca/wp-admin/includes/schema.php “In co-ordination with the AURTF (African Union forces), US military forces took custody of an individual claiming to be a defector from the LRA. That individual later identified himself as Ongwen,” she told reporters in Washington.

“Efforts to establish full and positive identification continue. If the individual proves to be Ongwen, his defection would represent a historic blow to the LRA’s command structure.”

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Born in Paibona, Awach, Uganda in 1980, Dominic Ongwen is the subject of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda told Chimpreports Wednesday morning that, “Yes, it is true Ongwen surrendered to US forces yesterday in C.A.R just like how his former colleagues have been surrendering to UPDF when things got tough in their jungle hideouts.”

He added: “This is huge success in the struggle that UPDF singlehandedly started from day one and when we totally dislodged them our country we even still followed them abroad and later the saw collective need too… It`s indeed a success as I said.”

Ongwen is a ‘Major General’ and Senior Commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which has committed numerous atrocities against civilians across Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan.

Ongwen is charged with responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes, for, among other acts, murder, enslavement, cruel treatment of civilians, and intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population.

The African Union and United Nations Security Council have repeatedly condemned atrocities committed by the LRA.

To bring Ongwen to justice, the United States Government in 2013 offered a reward to individuals who furnish information leading to his arrest, transfer, or conviction for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Who is Ongwen?

According to LRA Crisis Tracker, the tragic story of Ongwen encapsulates many of the complexities surrounding the LRA conflict. It is a story of a child, like many in the LRA, forced to grow up in the image of their oppressors (for more, see this article).

Abducted as a 10 year old while on his way to school – he was reportedly ‘too little to walk long distances’ – Ongwen nonetheless rose through the LRA ranks quickly, becoming a major at 18 and a brigadier in his late 20s.

Kony himself promoted Ongwen, who became known for his courage on the battlefield and for carrying out brutal attacks against civilians. In 2005, the International Criminal Court indicted Ongwen on 7 counts, including enslavement, making him the first person to be charged by the court for committing the same crime committed against him.

After his abduction in 1990, Ongwen was placed in the ‘household’ of Vincent Otti, a senior LRA commander. Ongwen grew close to Otti, who eventually rose to be Kony’s chief deputy before Kony ordered his execution in October 2007.

LRA defectors report that Ongwen was the only commander who pleaded with Kony to spare Otti’s life, a move that weakened his influence within the LRA. However, Kony spared Ongwen from the subsequent purge of Otti loyalists due to Ongwen’s value to the LRA, particularly his ability to lead troops on daring missions.

Ongwen proved his worth soon after, leading a raid on a South Sudanese military garrison in Nabanga in June 2008 in which LRA forces killed 14 soldiers.

Ongwen is known as much for his volatile nature as his bravery, and some former LRA fighters testify he has risked Kony’s wrath several times. Not only did he openly oppose Otti’s execution, Ongwen also publicly stated during the Juba negotiations that he would kill Kony if the LRA leader failed to secure favourable provisions for his commanders and fighters in the negotiation table.

Ongwen reportedly also refused to join other senior LRA commanders in CAR for most of 2009 and 2010 despite being frequently ordered to do so by Kony.

Though Kony has spared Ongwen’s life, he has taken action to punish him. In May 2009, Kony received reports that Ongwen was communicating with Ugandan officials with the intention of surrendering alongside his 60 fighters.

Kony sent a large force of loyal troops to intercept Ongwen’s group, which at that time operated alongside the Duru River in Congo, while frequently crossing into southern Sudan to raid civilians there.

They split up Ongwen’s group and replaced key members with fighters from Kony’s loyalist Central Brigade. Kony reportedly also demoted Ongwen and gave Lt. Col. Binany command of LRA forces in Congo, though Ongwen remained an influential commander.

Despite all the reported insubordination – which would have likely resulted in execution for any other commander – Kony persisted in trying to convince Ongwen to join him in CAR. By the summer of 2011 Ongwen’s force had reportedly dwindled to half a dozen fighters operating between Congo and South Sudan along the Duru River, and he eventually was brought to see Kony in CAR.

Kony demoted him on the spot and threatened to have him executed for insubordination. By August of 2012, Ongwen had reportedly crossed the Chinko River and moved further north into CAR. Ongwen has a long history of discord with Kony, with many arguing he indeed wanted to defect.

Reports state that Ongwen was injured and had difficulty walking and that Kony gave Major John Bosco Kibwola many of Ongwen’s command responsibilities. Ugandan military forces reported attacking Ongwen’s group southwest of the CAR town of Djemah in August and September 2012.

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