Statement by Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security at the Peace and Security Council meeting on LRA - 17 June 2013
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 18, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Statement by Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security at the Peace and Security Council meeting on LRA - 17 June 2013
Excellency, Chair of the Peace and Security Council,
Excellencies Ambassadors members of the Peace and Security Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen
As you may recall, events following the unconstitutional change of government in the CAR on 24 March 2013 impacted negatively on the implementation of the RCI-LRA due to the increased threats by Seleka against the Regional Task Force (RTF) Unit in the CAR. This forced the RTF troops to suspend operations and regroup in defensive positions, while awaiting the outcome of consultations between the AU and the RCI-LRA member-states on the way forward. Furthermore, the CAR contingent in Obo simply vanished when Seleka took over power in Bangui. In this regard, the Third Ministerial meeting of the JCM, held in Addis Ababa, on 24 April 2013, specifically reviewed the implementation of the RCI-LRA and, among other things, tasked the AU Special Envoy for LRA issues, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, to undertake a mission to Bangui to engage the authorities of the country on the implementation of the RCI-LRA. Accordingly, a delegation of the AU, led by the Special Envoy for LRA issues, met the CAR Prime Minister, Mr. Nicholas Tiangaye, and the leader of the CAR transitional government, Mr. Michel Djotodia, in Bangui, on 2 and 3 May 2013, respectively. The delegation obtained green light from both, for the continued operations of the RTF in south-eastern CAR.
However, the situation deteriorated again when, on 24 May 2013, an armed group originating from South Sudan attacked the town of Obo, where the RTF troops and the U.S Special Forces in CAR are based. A combined force of RTF and CAR gendarmerie neutralized the attackers. The above-mentioned incidence caused tension in Bangui, with the de facto CAR authorities agitating to forcefully deploy Seleka troops in Obo, because they accused the RTF troops of not protecting the local population.
In view of the foregoing, I wish to underscore importance of stabilizing the CAR, because the situation risks being exploited by the LRA to re-generate itself and step up atrocities in the region. In fact, reports indicate that attacks and killings committed by the LRA in CAR, since January 2013, have been on the increase, and that the group has been implicated of trading in ivory, and exchanging it for arms and ammunitions to sustain itself. This trade has also been fuelling the increasing abductions of persons by the LRA to carry their ivory, gold and diamond to black markets. This trade poses a threat to the implementation of the AU-led RCI-LRA because the CAR region in which the RTF troops conduct operations lies in the transit route for smugglers and traffickers operating between DRC and Kafia Kingi. The presence and operations of the RTF in south-eastern CAR has, therefore, deprived them of the privileges accruing from the control of this route, hence their hostility to the RTF.
In order to diffuse tension in Bangui over the earlier-mentioned attack in Obo, the AU Special Envoy for LRA issues, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Central Africa, Mr. Abou Moussa, undertook a joint mission to Bangui, Kampala and Juba, from 6 -13 June 2013 to engage the authorities of these countries with a view of building mutual confidence about RTF operations in the CAR and resuming operations.
The mission was undertaken timely because it helped to harmonize the vision of the RCI-LRA member states on the implementation of the Initiative vis-à-vis the precarious political and security situation in the CAR. Furthermore, the mission ascertained that the RCI-LRA member states, including the CAR, remained committed to the continued implementation of the RCI-LRA. It also discovered that Seleka was desirous of participating in RTF operations. The joint AU-UN delegation persuaded Mr. Djotodia to sign a statement to formally re-affirm his commitment to the resumption and continuation of RTF operations in his country. His signature is being awaited on the draft statement that was left with the SRSG/BINUCA. In another development, the governments of Uganda and South Sudan expressed interest in participating in the ECCAS-led stabilization process for the CAR, through participating in the Libreville Peace process and activities of the Follow-up Committee on the Libreville Accord.
The implementation of the RCI-LRA continues to be impeded by certain key challenges. These include the difficulties of the RCI-LRA member states to provide logistical and other needed support, including Mobility (air and ground), Medical support, Rations and Robust communications, to their contingents under the RTF. Furthermore, there is the lack of predictable funds for sustainably supporting the operations of the RTF Headquarters and the activities of the JCM Secretariat/Office of the Special Envoy. Despite the set-backs associated with events both leading to, and following the unconstitutional change of government in CAR, as well as financial and logistical challenges, the RCI-LRA has recorded a number of successes. The troops exerted strong military pressure on the LRA, resulting in significant reduction in the group's capability due to the capture, surrender and neutralization of many of their fighters and some of their key commanders.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our international partners for their continued support to the RCI-LRA. I particularly thank the EU for the funding support of 1.2 million Euros which enabled the AUC to equip the JCM Secretariat/Office of the AU Special Envoy for LRA issues in Bangui, as well as the RTF. I also thank the UN, U.S government and the relevant non-governmental Organizations for supporting the initiative in various ways.
I appeal to all to maintain their support to enable the AUC address the challenges associated with logistical problems and the lack of robust communication equipment needed to link the RTF Headquarters with the Sector Headquarters. And, in view of the encouraging progress being made against the LRA, and given the demonstrated commitment of the RCI-LRA member states to continue implementing the RCI-LRA, the AU Commission wishes to request the PSC to further renew its authorization for the implementation of the RCI-LRA for another one year.