The United Nations and anumber of central African countries that have been badly affected by JosephKony’sLord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have agreed to toughen upmeasures against “…the notorious rebel group to stop its deadlyactivities on the continent,” a statement released by the UN on 9thJanuarysaid.
During a meeting inKinshasa,the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),the LRA affected countries discussed ways in which they could collaborate tocombat the marauding rebel group. They also addressed future challengesthat they could tackle jointly.
According to the UN Officefor Central Africa (UNOCA), one of the key advancements during the meeting wasthe acceptance by the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Uganda and theDRC for their troops to cross borders without hindrance if they are pursuingLRA forces. UNOCA however said the terms for the patrols beyond bordersmust be well defined, justified and targeted, and that the types of troops tobe mobilized should also be specified.
During the meeting, the DRCalso firmed up its support for the AU to combat LRA activities. “…Wehave obtained guarantees as to the significant contribution of the DRC in theimplementation of the regional cooperation initiative of the African Unionagainst the LRA,” said Francisco Madeira, the LRA issue Special Envoy ofthe African Union [AU].
The joint mission alsoreceived the names of the Congolese officers that will integrate theoperational and military structures to track the LRA. UNOCA chief AbouMoussa stressed the importance of the regional meeting to enhancecooperation. “…We had reason to make this joint mission. Weknow how to guide our future actions to better coordinate the fight against theLRA.” he said. Mr. Moussa is expected to report to theSecretary-General on the progress in the exchange of information between theAU, States affected by LRA activities, and UN missions.
The LRA was formed inUganda in the 1980s. For over 15 years, its attacks were mainly directedagainst Ugandan civilians and Uganda’s national army the Uganda People’sDefence Forces [UPDF] which eventually dislodged the LRA from Ugandan soil in2002. It was then that the LRA moved its operations to the DRC, CAR andSouth Sudan.
According to the UN, morethan 12,000 combatants and abductees have so far left the LRA’s ranks and havebeen integrated and reunited with their families.