Joseph Kony showed his face to the world in 2006. Peace talks in the South Sudan city of Juba between 2006 and 2008 held out the promise of an end to Africa's longest insurgency. Here's how they ended.
When Joseph Kony finally showed his face to the world, in an exclusive television interview with British journalist Sam Farmar in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was wearing a blue sports t-shirt and camouflage pants.
The timing was propitious. The International Criminal Court had just lodged its first-ever war-crimes charges against Mr. Kony and demanded his arrest. The Ugandan government was expressing willingness to negotiate a peaceful settlement to what at the time was a 20-year insurgency. The South Sudanese government had offered to hold the peace talks in Juba. And here was the man of the hour, a man who denied charges of abducting child soldiers, of mutilating or murdering his enemies, a man who promised his willingness to seek a peaceful settlement.
“I’m a person like you,” Kony told the British reporter. “I have eyes. I have a brain. I wear clothes also. I’m a freedom fighter, who is fighting for freedom in Uganda, but I’m not a terrorist.”
This was the beginning of a two-year effort of Kony to rebrand himself and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the eyes of the world. Accused of kidnapping at least 30,000 children as porters, soldiers, and sex slaves since he launched his insurgency on behalf of northern Uganda’s Acholi people against the mainly southern Ugandan Army of President Yoweri Museveni in 1988; accused of forcing children to murder their own parents in order to break ties to their home communities; accused of mass murder of perhaps 100,000 people and feeding his army through pillage; Kony had already been labeled a mass murderer by human rights groups and as a terrorist by the US government. But in the summer of 2006, he presented himself as a man of peace.