Paris, June 10, 2011 (FH) - The murder on June 6, 2011 of a doctor running a screening centre in Obo (South-East of Central African Republic) raised one again the question of why the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) has been active and unpunished for so long.

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Five arrest warrants were issued in 2005 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against main leaders of the LRA. However, none of them has been arrested yet. Two are reported to be dead. The three others are the head of the movement Joseph Kony and two of his commanders, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen.

In a Press release published on June 8, a local NGO named « Collectif d'action contre l'Armée de résistance du Seigneur " asked the Central African government to implement any means to drive the rebels out of the country". They also requested the International community to "rescue Bangui in order to ease the sufferings of local people".

According to a report published in May 2011 by Human Rights Watch, "LRA has killed almost 2,400 civilians since September 2008, abducted 3,400 others including many children and was responsible for the displacement of 400,000 people".

Pascal Turlan, who works as an International cooperation counselor for the ICC Prosecutor, added in an interview to Hirondelle News Agency that "in the last months there was a sudden raise in the number of murders and abductions. A hundred attacks have already been reported in 2011".

In CAR the only armed forces fighting the LRA so far have been the Ugandan Army. However, "Joint brigades" under African Union coordination should start to operate soon after their creation was decided in October 2010. "We still need to wait and see if action follows political decisions", Pascal Turlan noted.

LRA was established in Northern Uganda in 1987. Its charismatic leader Joseph Kony relies on an entourage of former Ugandan Army officers. Driven out of Uganda, rebels have been spreading into CAR, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan since 2008.

"LRA has always been very dangerous", confirms Sandrine Perrot, a Uganda expert working at the Center for International Studies and Research (CERI) in Paris. "They are very mobile and efficient but have been largely underestimated so far".

 "ICC can issue arrest warrants but then they need an armed wing to enforce it. And yet regional armies do not consider Kony's arrest as one of their priorities".

She doubts that the "joint brigades" might help solve the problem: "At the end of 2008 there was a joint military operation including Ugandan, Congolese and Sudanese armies", she recalled. It never worked as they distrusted each other.

The only option she can think about would be giving a mediating role to local people in Northern Uganda: "They might be able to get in touch with Kony and start peace negotiations, including proposals for his own future".


© Hirondelle News Agency