AU begs Ugandan troops to stay in CAR


The African Union has asked the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to allow troops remain in Central African Republic.

In 2014, the United Nations has asked Uganda to contribute troops to the 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission to stabilise the country following a conflict between Seleka and anti-Seleka militias.

Uganda has a thin force in CAR, mainly to hunt down the elusive rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Already, there are 6,000 troops of the African Union’s International Support Mission (MISCA), as well as 2,000 French troops.

Last month, the Ugandan army said it was giving up the pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels led by Joseph Kony, deeming the rebel LRA to be “no longer a threat”.

“Uganda has met its goal in the fighting against LRA,” army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said.

“The LRA has been degraded, they no longer have means to make war,” he said, adding however that another reason behind Kampala’s thinking was that “international support has not been enough”.

AU begs

On Monday Ankunda said Kony was thousands of miles from Uganda but noted that African Union still wanted UPDF in CAR.

For Somalia, Ankunda said the army was ready to leave.

“We went to Somalia to help our brothers build capacity. 10 years on, we think it’s time to leave. Someone should put government to task to explain UPDF’s sacrifice in Somalia over the last 10 years.”

But CAR was another question.

“African Union has requested we stay in CAR but it’s not guaranteed that we will stay,” Ankunda said while appearing on television.

The chronically unstable Central African Republic was plunged into chaos in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted president Francois Bozize, triggering a spiral of revenge attacks between the rebels and mainly Christian vigilante groups that left thousands dead and displaced many more.

The bloodletting in one of the world’s poorest nations was so serious it triggered a military intervention by former colonial power France and led to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force.

A peaceful presidential vote held in February was hailed as an important step towards reconciliation in the strife-torn nation.

France’s mission is due to end in December, after a progressive draw-down.

Around 2,000 Ugandan soldiers, backed by US troops, are currently deployed in eastern CAR as part of an African Union mission to tackle the LRA rebels.

There are another 10,000 UN troops in the country.

The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in the mid-1980s when it took up arms in the name of the Acholi ethnic group against the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

Over the years it has moved freely across porous regional borders, shifting from Uganda to sow terror in southern Sudan before heading into northeastern DR Congo in 2005, finally crossing into the southeastern Central African Republic in 2008.

Combining religious mysticism with guerrilla tactics and bloodthirsty ferocity, its leader Joseph Kony has turned scores of young girls into his personal sex slaves while claiming to be fighting to impose the Bible’s Ten Commandments.

The group has killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped more than 60,000 children, forcing many of them to become child soldiers, according to the UN.

The LRA has been weakened by the capture or defection of a succession of its leading figures, most recently in February when one of its commanders, Okot Odek, was captured and handed over to US forces by a faction of the Seleka rebels in CAR.

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