18 October 2010

Central Africa: Region Agrees to Jointly Combat LRA Rebels

Photo: Voxcom/IRIN
Lords Resistance Army rebels have...

Kampala — Central African nations affected by the activities of Uganda's notorious rebel group Lords Resistance Army (LRA) have agreed to form a joint military force to strengthen their fight against the group.

The region also agreed on the steps required to declare the LRA a terrorist group, instead of a rebel group, in line with the relevant instruments of the African Union (AU).

This step will enable the region to mobilise support from the international community to better fight the group.

The AU will serve as the central organ, to coordinate the running of the joint military force that was agreed upon during a meeting held to discuss ways of dealing with the group in the Central A frica Republic (CAR), attended by President Françoise Bozize, the AU said in a communique Satu rday.

The two-day (13-14 Oct) regional ministerial meeting was held in Bangui, and was attended by ministers, civilian and military leaders from countries affected by LRA activities, including CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Uganda.

The ministers agreed to take various steps, including military measures against, the Ugandan group, which traverses the Eastern and the Central African region, kidnapping children and women and recruiting chi ld soldiers, although the group denies involvement in such activities.

The military force would have a Joint Operations Centre, bringing together officers from the affected countries to facilitate the sharing of information and intelligence.

The Centre will coordinate the design and conduct of military operations on the field against the group.

The joint brigade will act against the LRA and stop its criminal activities, in addition to deploying joint border patrols of affected countries, while also working on improving communications in areas affected by LRA.

The United States has recently pledged to take steps aimed at curbing the activities of the LRA, under the leadership of Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes.

The ministers called for the appointment of a Special Envoy of the President of the AU Commission to coordinate efforts against the LRA, facilitate the engagement and support international community and undertake all other peace missions.

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