Ali Ssalongo Kony, the son of the fugitive Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony has opened up on why he parted ways with his father.
The 29-year-old recently returned quietly with his family members comprising his mother, expectant wife, and three children to Gulu City on July 1 this year. He has since been under the care of the Pageya Clan Chief Rwot Yusuf Okwonga Adek, a former peace negotiator between the government and the LRA rebel leader Kony.
Ali, once a blue-eyed boy to the notorious LRA warlord enjoyed top positions in the LRA including being the Chief of Security of Kony and the Coordination commander of the LRA and Sudanese allies.
At his youthful age, Ali had gained enormous trust from his father as a fierce fighter, commander, and LRA coordinator seeing him quickly grow in rank to a Brigadier.
However, in July 2021, Ali took a daring step to abandon his father’s rebellion campaign which he had been part of for nearly two decades.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network in an exclusive interview on Wednesday in Gulu City, Ali revealed that his father had become a threat to his life and her mother prompting his escape.
He notes that Kony had long been torturing his mother but he consistently defended her, a move that angered him leading to a sour relationship between them.
According to Ali, when he lost morale for work and distanced himself from his father, Kony grew very suspicious that his mother had brainwashed him.
“There has been a fight between my father and mother but I got sucked into their fight because I was like a defender, I like my mother and didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. He (Kony) realized later that I had low morale for work, and our connection in terms of exchanging ideas and talking like we did before also slowly started waning,”he said.
Ali noted that a mix of feelings of fearing retaliation from his father and the need to offer his children a better life forced him to flee with his family into the neighboring South Darfur in Sudan for safety.
He says he had for long thought about returning home but was discouraged by negative messages that those who returned home were killed or imprisoned.
Asked about his father’s health, Ali confirmed that his father had indeed been battling diabetes but noted that by the time he parted ways with him, he was physically fine.
“Pertaining his (Kony’s) health, when he left him, he was still okay, he walked, talked, and sat well but the weakness people have been suggesting is that he has diabetes. He had been very sick in the past but when he started using traditional herbs and conventional medicine, his health improved. Diabetes is the main ailment disturbing him currently, he is not as fit as in the past,” says Ali.
Ali also revealed that by the time he escaped, his father had about 100 fighters including young children and women.
He says Kony is currently into commercial agriculture for the survival of his fighters adding that the crops are later sold mainly to Mbororo pastoralists who roam between the Central African Republic, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“During my time with him (Kony) until I left, he hadn’t been launching operations. However, there was farming, there were crops for the fighters to feed on and the surplus was sold to Mbororo herdsmen who moved from place to place from Congo, Darfur, and the Central African Republic. Those herdsmen used to buy a lot of food from our camp and the money would be used to buy what we lacked,” Says Ali.
Medina Akulu, 51, the mother to Ali and third wife to Kony notes that she had been imprisoned and tortured several times by Kony on allegations that she wanted to escape with her children.
Akulu who was abducted while in senior one from Gulu High School in 1989 had escaped earlier from captivity but returned in 2006 to join her children during the peace negotiation between the LRA and the government.
She however says Kony had always been suspicious about her adding that on a number of times, she had been held in confinements to avoid her from escaping.
Akulu says she is happy to have escaped and received a warm welcome from the government.
Akulu and her son Ali led by the Pageya clan chief Rwot Yusuf Adek on August 25 met President Museveni at State House in Entebbe, a month after their return.
The President promised to help the returnees acquire land so that they could utilize it for agriculture collectively as a family and join the money economy. A total of 77 former LRA fighters have between July and August this year been repatriated from Central African Republic and received amnesty from the government.
Kony launched a bloody rebellion against President Museveni in 1986 that lasted two deceases and resulted in the displacement of 1.5 million people in Northern Uganda and the death of more than 100,000 people.