Fight against LRA
The UN and the African Union reassure the armed group fighters
At the end of their joint mission to Bangui (Central African Republic) and Juba (South Sudan) from 31 October to 1st November, Messrs. Francisco Madeira, theAU Special Envoy for the LRA, and Abou Moussa, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), called on the fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) that are still in the bush to stop their activities and return to normal life.
"We ask them to be receptive to the messages they receive through various channels on the need to contribute to the creation of favorable conditions for a return to peace and security in the CAR. For this, they should just abandon Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, who we invite also, once again, to lay down his arms", says Abou Moussa. "We know that women and children were forcibly recruited by the LRA commanders. We tell them not to be afraid of anything either. In case of withdrawal from the LRA, they will be welcomed, their security will be guaranteed and discussions will be initiated to organize their social reintegration or their resettlement", adds Francisco Madeira, recalling that mechanisms have been put in place for this purpose, including the process of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR).
"We are ready to intervene"
In this regard, the UN and the AU indicate that contact and assembly points exist in areas likely to contain the LRA. This message is particularly important given information received at various meetings in Bangui regarding the desire expressed by some LRA fighters to defect in Nzako, in the South-eastern CAR. Although the figures initially provided by the authorities of the transition (over a thousand) are not consistent with those of NGOs working on the ground (about twenty), the UN and the AU believe that they should continue to follow carefully the developments on this issue. "We are ready to intervene at the appropriate time, with the help of international partners and the assistance of humanitarian organizations to provide support to people concerned," insisted Messrs. Madeira and Moussa, encouraging the Central African government to continue its "considerable efforts" in the fight against the LRA, despite the deep crisis in the country since December 2012.
Exchanges with Messrs. Nicolas Tiangaye and Michel Djotodia, respectively Prime Minister and Head of State of the Transition, allow to appreciate their willingness to support this cause and to facilitate operations of the Regional Task Force set up by the AU to track down Joseph Kony and his elements. They underlined the need for a regional summit that would bring together leaders of the affected countries in order to discuss the issue and give a new impetus to the implementation of the Regional cooperation initiative of the African Union for the elimination of the LRA. Supported by the United Nations, this Initiative is on track since its official launch in Juba in March 2012, even if its operational capacities should be strengthened to ensure its optimal performance.
South Sudan still mobilized against LRA
After Bangui where it also met the group of African ambassadors, representatives of NGOs, European Union, France, the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA), the UN/AU joint mission went to Juba (South Sudan) on 1st November. The delegation had a working session with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and with an official from the government. Ambassador Charles Manyang d’awol, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that South Sudanese authorities remain committed to fight against the LRA, although it is no longer a real threat to the country. He added that if the information on defections in the South-eastern CAR were confirmed, this would be an additional reason for satisfaction and a turning point in the determination of each other to combine their efforts to stop the atrocities of the armed group.