African Union to Make Push Against LRA Rebels in CAR

Posted March 28, 2012 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 2,552 views


New York Times – By JOSH KRON
KAMPALA, Uganda — The African Union announced Friday that it would launch a new regional military operation against the Lord’s Resistance Army, the vicious Ugandan rebel group that has been terrorizing parts of central Africa for more than 20 years.

The operation, which aims to bring together 5,000 troops from four African countries each victimized by the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony, will tap from troops already deployed to fight the group. But officials said the force will be more cohesive and disciplined.

“We’re on a mission,” an African Union envoy, Francisco Madeira, told reporters on Friday. “We need to stop Kony.”

The announcement came a few weeks after a YouTube video from an American advocacy organization went viral on the Internet and brought unprecedented attention to Mr. Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for a range of unspeakable atrocities.

The announcement also came a few days after a bipartisan group in Congress introduced a resolution condemning Mr. Kony and supporting a regional military effort from the four most victimized nations. The armies of those nations — Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of the Congo — have been fighting the L.R.A. since last year under a loosely organized effort. But some soldiers in those armies have resentments toward one another that have overshadowed their common goal of eradicating Mr. Kony’s group and arresting him.

The new operation announced Friday could offer a new beginning.

Uganda said it would reallocate 1,500 of its troops currently fighting the L.R.A. in the Central African Republic under the new African Union operation, to be headed by Uganda, but it remained unclear how new troops would be brought in from the other nations, when they would arrive, and whether they would all be under a single military command.

Headquarters for the operation will be in South Sudan, the world’s youngest and possibly most cash-hungry nation, and will include offices and administration.

The United States, which has participated in special operations against the rebel group in the past, last year sent 100 troops to Uganda and operational field locations to act a special advisers to the national forces, and reiterated its support on Friday for the regional military operation and its own “multi-year strategy.”

The African Union said Friday that its operation had been months in the planning, and would not stop until Mr. Kony was captured.

The Lord’s Resistance Army has been murdering, mutilating and kidnapping children across East and Central Africa for decades, and has been the focus of numerous military operations, but while their atrocities were well known, the group did not come under their current widespread global scrutiny until the YouTube video.

Uganda, which has complained of being drowned-out of the L.R.A. conversation since the video gained worldwide attention, was quick to distinguish the new effort, though it may not result in much change on the ground.

“The video excites those who have ignored African issues, otherwise it’s a joke,” said a Ugandan military spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye.

“It is now A.U. that is in charge,” Colonel Kulayigye said, referring to the African Union. “The L.R.A. has always been there, it must be dead once and for all.”

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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