In Uganda the US has offered a reward of up to $5m for information leading to the arrest or capture of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the BBC reports.
The announcement came as the Ugandan army suspended a search for Kony in the Central African Republic (CAR), blaming “hostility” from its new government.
Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.
He and his fighters are thought to be in the CAR or neighbouring countries.
US authorities say the reward is also being offered for information on two other top LRA leaders, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen.
The LRA has “tormented and terrorized children” in Uganda and across the region, US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in the Huffington Post on Wednesday.
Mr Kerry said Kony and other LRA leaders “will not be easy to find”, adding: “The LRA is broken down into small bands of rebels, scattered throughout dense jungle, hidden by dense canopy, controlling territory through tactics of fear and intimidation.”
The Ugandan forces are in the CAR under an African Union mandate, assisted by soldiers from other African nations, as well as US special forces.
The African Union suspended the CAR’s membership after the Seleka rebel group seized power and overran the capital, Bangui.
“We have reorganised our forces, collected them in defence, as we await the decision that will follow consultations going on between the African Union and participating countries,” Ugandan army spokesman Col Felix Kulaijye told the BBC.
Joseph Kony and the estimated 200-500 fighters of his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have waged war in Uganda and the region for more than two decades.
About 100 U.S. special forces helping with intelligence and logistical support also called off operations temporarily, a U.S. embassy official said, but it was not immediately clear if troops from other countries in the regional force were also giving up the search.
Crane Elise, U.S. embassy information officer in Kampala, said U.S. special forces had “temporarily paused the operations against LRA to give us time to consult with our partners.”
In the Central African Republic, African heads of state on Wednesday refused to recognize rebel leader Michel Djotodia’s self-appointment as president, calling instead for the creation of a new transitional body to guide the country to elections, Reuters reports.
The decision, taken at a summit of leaders from the central African region, further isolates Djotodia, who led thousands of insurgents into the former French colony’s crumbling riverside capital Bangui on March 24, ousting President Francois Bozize.
“It seems impossible to us to recognize a man who has appointed himself,” Chadian President Idriss Deby said following the summit in Chad’s capital N’djamena.
African and Western leaders have already condemned the rebellion in the mineral-rich but chronically unstable nation. The African Union suspended Central African Republic and imposed sanctions on Djotodia while Washington said he was not a legitimate leader.
Though organized by regional states, the summit included a delegation led by South African President Jacob Zuma, who is under growing pressure at home following the deaths of 13 South African soldiers during the March 24 onslaught.
The withdrawal of South African forces, in the country under agreements with Bozize, had been a demand of the rebels during peace talks with the government in Gabon earlier this year.
However Pretoria sent reinforcements to Bangui as the rebellion built up last month.
Those soldiers will now return home, Deby said.
“President Jacob Zuma announced to us his decision to withdraw South African troops, who had come to Central African Republic in the framework of a cooperation agreement,” he said.
The killing of its soldiers has prompted questions about South African’s role in the country, and how a military training mission there became entangled in an internal conflict.
In Zimbabwe, News24 reports, although elections are still months away, President Robert Mugabe’s party is intimidating its opponents and threatening violence, human rights and pro-democracy groups say.
Witnesses say Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has begun deploying youth militia groups in some of its strongholds. A young mother in the Harare township of Mbare said militants of a pro-Mugabe youth group known as Chipangano, or “the brotherhood” in local slang, have started door-to-door visits in the neighbourhood and told residents to attend night meetings where names and identity particulars of participants were written down.
“They are watching me every day,” she said, refusing to give her name because she feared violent retribution.
If she doesn’t go to the meetings with family members and friends her absence will be noted down on another list of suspected Mugabe opponents, she said.
Mugabe’s party insists its members are free to display party loyalty and regalia during election campaigning, a common practice in most countries. But independent campaign monitors have reported rival fliers and posters being torn down and destroyed, mostly by militant youth groups.
Monitors representing both local and foreign rights groups say there is now burgeoning fear because Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by violence and alleged vote rigging since 2000, mainly by Mugabe’s party.
Actual physical violence this time around has been comparatively limited so far but there has been an increase in police action against groups and individuals seen as Mugabe opponents, including the arrests on 17 March of Beatrice Mtetwa, Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer, and four senior staffers of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s main rival.
Mugabe is to announce an election date in consultation with the coalition partners, but it is bogged down in technicalities. Under the constitution, new elections must be held within 90 days of 29 June, when the term of the current parliament expires and the body is automatically dissolved.
Mugabe wants the poll as soon as possible. Tsvangirai says it would be late July at the earliest but it could come as late as September.