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Commander Bok Abudema is thought to be a close military advisor to LRA leader Joseph Kony. Abudema, who joined the ranks early on and maintained an unwavering loyalty to Kony, was reportedly in charge of the execution in late 2007 of Kony’s former deputy, Vincent Otti. Kony turned against Otti because Otti favored negotiating a peace deal with the Ugandan government. According to the Ugandan daily The New Vision, Abudema also oversaw the 1999 execution of Vincent Otti’s predecessor, Otti Lagony.
An intelligence source quoted by the paper said: “On many occasions Abudema was upset that the International Criminal Court had not indicted him yet he had killed a lot more people (than those indicted).”
If confirmed, Abudema’s death adds to the growing list of high ranking LRA killed or surrendered during recent operations by the Ugandan army throughout Africa’s Great Lakes region.
Originating in northern Uganda, the LRA fanned out across the region in recent years to evade capture by the Ugandan army. The group further splintered after a U.S.-backed joint military operation conducted by the Ugandans, Congolese, and Sudanese dislodged them from their base in Congo’s dense jungle, failed to neutralize Kony, and provoked a violent backlash of LRA attacks on the civilian population in the area.
While the operation, code-named Lightning Thunder, officially ended in March 2009, the governments of Congo, southern Sudan, and Central African Republic granted the Ugandan army permission to continue pursuing the LRA in their territories. Uganda estimates that since the operation began in December 2008, about 300 fighters have been killed, 50 defected to the government’s side, and 40 were captured.
Commenting on the news of Abudema’s death, Enough’s LRA researcher Ledio Cakaj stressed that the reports are still unconfirmed. “It will be interesting to see whether the UPDF produce a body or photos,” Ledio noted. “With just one exception [an LRA commander name Kalalang], there have been no confirmations of the major killings the UPDF has claimed, either through photos or through former LRA.”
Keeping Ledio’s cautious insights in mind and emphasizing that the LRA continues to have a devastating effect on the communities where it operates, it’s safe to say that the pressure on its leadership is mounting.
Photo: LRA fighters in eastern Congo