U.S. sanctions two Lord’s Resistance Army over ivory, weapons trade

Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, file. REUTERS/James Akena
Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, file. REUTERS

The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday blacklisted two people it said supported the outlawed Lord’s Resistance Army in Central African Republic through the illegal trade in ivory, weapons and money aimed at fuelling conflict in the region.

A statement from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that the sanctioned individuals are Okut Lukwang, a Ugandan serving as an LRA intelligence officer, and Musa Hatari, a Sudanese merchant, Reuters reports.

As a result of the sanctions, financial institutions subject to US legal jurisdiction are generally prohibited from dealing with both people, freezing them out of much of the global financial system. Any US-based assets are also frozen.

Last year the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony.

Kony’s sons Salim and Ali also received sanctions on accusations of being commanders in the rebel group blamed for extreme violence in a large part of central Africa.

The Lord’s Resistance Army, like other armed groups, used ivory trade and wildlife trafficking to help fund their activities, the Treasury Department said.

“The U.S. government will not tolerate the actions of those who finance destabilizing activities in central Africa,” John Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement.

Lukwang acts as intelligence officer, oversees supply logistics and serves as an ivory broker for the Lord’s Resistance Army, according to the statement.

Hatari serves as the main supplier of ammunition, mines, weapons, food, supplies and other goods to the group, it added.

The Lord’s Resistance Army battled Ugandan forces for about two decades, becoming known for its brutality and kidnapping of children for use as fighters and sex slaves.

As the group was ejected from bases in northern Uganda around and what is now South Sudan, it retreated to an area of jungle straddling the borders of South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic.