[JURIST] Ugandan military forces Saturday captured one of the highest leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) [BBC backgrounder], the rebel militia group headed by alleged Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) ambushed and captured [Al Jazeera report] Major General Caesar Achellam along the banks of the River Mbou in Central African Republic (CAR). Achellam is said to be a top rebel military strategist [BBC News report] and close ally of Kony. Achellam has been fighting in the jungles of Africa for almost 30 years. He was taken into custody during a return trip from the Democratic Republic of Congo following a skirmish between about 30 rebels and the UPDF, who had been on Achellam’s trail for a month before conducting the ambush. Ugandan officials cite the capture of the major general as significant progress against the LRA, labeling Achellam a “big fish” and expressing hope that his arrest will prompt other LRA fighters to abandon the fight and leave the rebel group. Achellam was reportedly captured with an AK-47, eight rounds of ammunition, a wife and young daughter and an aide.
Since the recent campaign by Invisible Children [advocacy website] to arrest Kony became popular, the international community has shown an increased commitment to his capture. In March International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] expressed his support [JURIST report] for the Invisible Children campaign. Kony is wanted by the ICC for 12 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 war crimes [ICC arrest warrant, PDF], including murder, rape, mutilation and the forced enlistment of child soldiers. Also in March the US House of Representatives proposed legislation [JURIST report] to support and protect Uganda through increased military presence and support in expanding its telecommunications system. In 2009 the ICC said that it was still looking for Kony [JURIST report]. Kony has denied the allegations [JURIST report] against him. Despite ICC calls for global cooperation [JURIST report] to execute the arrest warrant, Kony has remained at large.