While progress has been made by the AU led regional co-operation initiative for the elimination of Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA) it has been hampered by hostilities in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The latest report from Addis Ababa on this initiative indicates 3 350 troops of an expected 5 000 strong brigade are in place. Contributions to date are from CAR (350), Uganda (2 000), South Sudan (500) and the DRC (500).
“The evolution of the situation in the CAR since the resumption of hostilities by the Seleka rebel group in December 2012 has negatively impacted on the implementation of the RCI-LRA. The CAR Armed Forces (FACA) Unit that was deployed in Obo as part of the RTF (Regional Task Force) disintegrated. Additionally since the unconstitutional change of government in the CAR, on March 24, 2013, there have been incessant threats and provocation by Seleka elements against the RTF unit in the Obo Sector. This situation compelled RTF troops to suspend counter-LRA operations and regroup in defensive positions, while awaiting the outcome of consultations between the Commission and the de facto CAR authorities,” the report stated.
Among difficulties faced by RCI-LRA are logistic support, including air and ground mobility; medical support; rations and effective communications. The report also makes mention of funding for the RTF headquarters as lacking “the required level of predictability and sustainability”.
These challenges have not prevented increased military pressure being put on LRA which has resulted in a reduction of the group’s capability. This saw capture of a senior LRA member, Major General Caesar Acellam, and subsequent capture of “many” additional fighters in May last year.
“In August 2012, a raid was carried out on the hide-out of Major General Dominic Ongwen during which he was wounded. In January 2013, Joseph Kony’s former Chief of Security Brigadier Vincent Okumu Binany was killed in south-eastern CAR while leading a group of LRA elements who were transporting ivory to an LRA base. The RTF troops recovered six pieces of ivory.”
The AU RCI-LRA commission also notes the “terrorist group is far from being neutralised” and renewed efforts are going to be needed to strengthen its effectiveness.