Ali Ssalongo Kony, the son of Joseph Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has opened up about his decision to separate from his father. Ali, aged 29, recently returned to Gulu City on July 1, accompanied by his mother, expectant wife, and three children. He has been under the care of Pageya Clan Chief Rwot Yusuf Okwonga Adek, a former peace negotiator between the government and Joseph Kony.
In his previous role, Ali held prominent positions within the LRA, including Chief of Security and Coordination Commander. He gained his father’s trust as a fierce fighter and commander, rapidly ascending to the rank of Brigadier.
However, in July 2021, Ali made a bold move to leave the rebellion campaign led by his father, which he had been part of for nearly twenty years. Ali recently explained in an exclusive interview with Uganda Radio Network in Gulu City that his father had become a threat to both his life and his mother’s life, leading to his decision to escape.
Ali shared that his father had been mistreating his mother for a long time, and he had consistently defended her. This stance created tensions between Ali and Joseph Kony, ultimately souring their relationship. Ali revealed that as he distanced himself from his father, Kony grew suspicious, believing that his mother had influenced Ali’s decision.
The combination of fearing retaliation from his father and the desire to provide a better life for his children motivated Ali to flee to South Darfur in Sudan with his family. Although he had contemplated returning home, Ali was discouraged by negative messages suggesting that returnees were often killed or imprisoned.
Regarding his father’s health, Ali confirmed that Joseph Kony had been dealing with diabetes. However, at the time Ali left, Kony’s physical condition appeared relatively stable. Ali also disclosed that his father had about 100 fighters, including children and women, at the time of Ali’s departure.
Joseph Kony had shifted his focus to commercial agriculture to sustain his fighters. He sold crops to Mbororo pastoralists, who traversed regions such as the Central African Republic, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ali clarified that during his time with his father, military operations were minimal, and the emphasis was on farming to feed the fighters. Any surplus food was sold to Mbororo herdsmen, and the profits were used to acquire necessities.
Medina Akulu, Ali’s mother and Kony’s third wife, shared her own experiences. She had been imprisoned and tortured multiple times by Joseph Kony, who suspected her of wanting to escape with her children. Abducted in 1989, she had initially escaped but returned in 2006 during the peace negotiations between the LRA and the government. Akulu expressed relief at her escape and welcomed the support of the government.
Recently, Akulu and Ali, along with Pageya Clan Chief Rwot Yusuf Adek, met President Museveni at State House in Entebbe. The President pledged assistance in obtaining land for the returnees to engage in collective agriculture and participate in the monetary economy.
Between July and August of this year, 77 former LRA fighters have been repatriated from the Central African Republic and granted amnesty by the government. Joseph Kony initiated a violent rebellion against President Museveni in 1986, resulting in widespread displacement and the deaths of more than 100,000 people in Northern Uganda.