KAMPALA, Uganda. Though the US decided to withdraw its Special Forces and logistical support from the African Union Regional Task Force (RTF) that has been fighting the Lords’ Resistance Army rebels (LRA) sensing their weakness, reports are rife that the rebel outfit has regrouped and strengthening again.
The US withdrew her forces and logistical support from the Central African nation in March this year, prompting Uganda that had the biggest contingent of troops (2,000) to announce her withdrawal too. South Sudan also announced the impending withdrawal of her participation.
Now, the Investigator has established that François Loucény Fall, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), has briefed the Security Council on the consequences of pulling out.
Presenting the semi-annual report on UNOCA and the implementation of the UN regional strategy to combat the LRA at UN security council on Tuesday, Loucény Fall noted that while the rebels’ fighting capacity has been significantly degraded, prompting the US and Uganda’s withdrawal, the Secretary-General’s 31 May report (S/2017/465) indicates that the LRA remains a significant threat to populations in the affected areas and notes the potential for the LRA to exploit the resulting vacuum created by these forces’ departure.
A number of members may express concerns over the security vacuum and the ability of the AU and RTF-contributing countries (the CAR, whose forces need further training before they can be deployed, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to sustain efforts that have contributed to the weakening of the LRA. In light of the departure of the forces, the AU Peace and Security Council urged the Council in a 12 May communiqué on the LRA to take into account the disarmament of the LRA in the mandate of MINUSCA.
Ugandan troops that were deployed in Central African Republic in 2009 are supposed to start withdrawing from May next year. UPDF was deployed to the east of the CAR as a result of a resolution of the African Union. Its objective was to put an end to the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army who had fled from Uganda.
A group that monitors LRA activities, The Resolve initiative, says the group is still a threat to civilians and cautions against drawing down troops prematurely. Years of joint US-African Union efforts to destroy the LRA have been stymied by the group’s guerrilla tactics and its propensity to retreat into harsh terrain and unstable or ungoverned areas.
Several years ago Kony was rumored to be hiding in the Kafia enclave, a disputed territory occupied by the Sudanese army. The Secretary-General’s report covers other political and security trends in the Central African region during the past six months.