For more than a year, the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from neighbouring Uganda has exported its unique brand of terror into the remote and vast district called Haut Uélé, killing or abducting thousands of Congolese villagers and forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes. Their "chief" had been attacked at home in Uganda and in South Sudan and he wanted refuge.
Major Abdoul was part of a Congolese government delegation that went to meet the chief's people in a place called Aba, close to the border with Sudan. "An off day." In fact, the story has a prologue as well.
He talked about being guided by spirits, about how he was a "man of peace". I have eyes, a brain, and wear clothes, but they are saying we don't talk with people, we eat people, we are killers. One of them was Lily Atong, the girl who had been kidnapped in 1993.
She had spent 12 years in the bush with the LRA, eight as Kony's wife.
Kony's erratic behaviour was not the only obstacle to a peace settlement.
Representing the LRA at the formal peace negotiations in Juba, South Sudan, was a team of Ugandans from the diaspora who were prone to infighting and making grandiose statements.
Then there was the issue of the war crimes charges raised by the International Criminal Court against Kony and four of his most senior commanders, including Dominic Ongwen, who had been kidnapped as a boy.Some of the fighters were believers both in Kony's spiritual powers and in the need to defend the Acholi people from further revenge attacks by Museveni's troops, who had chased thousands of former government soldiers back to the north. The rebels came to her hut one night and dragged her off into the darkness. Museveni tried to crush the rebels militarily but they knew the bush too well. While Museveni was being hailed for bringing stability and economic growth to Uganda, the war in the north dragged on, largely unnoticed by the outside world.But kidnapping was the main form of recruitment, with boys and girls often the targets. Kony, who told his followers that he would one day rule the country according to the Ten Commandments, ordered retribution after each government offensive. He tried to deny Kony food and cover, herding 1.8 million people in northern Uganda into camps for their own "protection".The people of northern Uganda - the Acholis, his people - government sympathisers and ordinary villagers both, would suffer. But the LRA was able to exist comfortably across the border in Sudan with the help of the government in Khartoum, which wanted to punish Museveni for supporting rebels fighting a civil war in South Sudan.Thousands of civilians were killed, some by young boys kidnapped from their classrooms only months before. By 2004, the conflict was attracting more international attention, mainly because of the so-called Night Commuters. " Florence Adwar, a 48-year-old Night Commuter asked me in October 2004.