Political turmoil in the Central African Republic has halted Ugandan and American troops' joint search for Joseph Kony, the notorious warlord accused of abducting tens of thousands of children and turning them into trained killers for his Lord's Resistance Army.
The Ugandan military and American troops announced separately Wednesday that the search for Kony would be stopped temporarily because rebel groups unaffiliated with the warlord had seized control of the Central African Republic, driving out President Francois Bozize. The rebel leaders are reportedly refusing to cooperate with the Ugandan and U.S. troops stationed there.
Kony, who's been on the run for about 25 years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including enslaving children as soldiers and sex slaves in his army, which operated in parts of Uganda and parts of central Africa, according to CNN.
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A social media movement launched last year by Invisible Children, Inc., a non-governmental organization devoted to finding and stopping Kony, brought widespread awareness to Kony's crimes. The movement, Kony 2012, drew more than 100 million views online and brought global attention to the LRA.
The news that the search would be suspended overshadowed an announcement by the U.S. State Department Wednesday that a $5 million reward would be offered for information leading to the "arrest, transfer, or conviction" of three top LRA leaders.
Though Kony's army has weakened in the last two years, international human rights groups fear that Kony and his army could reignite and regroup if the search is suspended for too long or called off entirely.
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"A premature withdrawal would have devastating and immediate consequences for civilians in LRA-affected areas," Ben Keesey, head of Invisible Children, told the Washington Post. "It gives Kony a new lease on life, enabling him to regain power by initiating new rounds of abductions in communities that will be left totally unprotected and vulnerable to LRA attacks."
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