24 March 2012 – The African Union (AU) and the UN Office for Central Africa today unveiled a regional task force in Juba aimed at eliminating the Lord’s Resistance Army and capturing its leader Joseph Kony.
“It is time to deal with them and bring them to book, arrest their leader for the atrocities he has committed in South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” said the South Sudanese Minister of Interior, Alison Manani Magaya, as he opened the ceremony.
Since the founding of the LRA in the mid-1980s, its forces have killed over 2,600 people, kidnapped 4,000 civilians and displaced over 400,000 people in Uganda, South Sudan and the DRC, according to AU Special Envoy Francisco Madeira.
Present at the launch were South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa Abou Moussa, Ambassador Madeira and other officials from the government, the UN and the international community.
Vice President Machar thanked the AU, UN and the international community for their support and pledged the cooperation of his government with the four-nation military force that will be established to hunt down Mr. Kony.
“You will get our support,” said the vice president, who mediated peace talks between Uganda and the LRA before they collapsed in 2008. “I wish you success in it.”
Describing the initiative as the “result of several months of consultation,” Mr. Moussa said the task force will consist of both military and civilian personnel.
Authorized to capture Mr. Kony, protect civilians who are exposed to LRA atrocities and promote humanitarian assistance, the force will be drawn from the military personnel of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the DRC and Mr. Kony’s native Uganda.
Funding will come from the governments of those countries, said Ambassador Madeira. The initiative enjoys the full support of the U.S. government, and approximately 100 U.S. military advisers are expected serve in the regional force.
Mr, Kony and four of his lieutenants were indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The force’s Joint Operations Centre will be headquartered in the Western Equatoria State capital of Yambio under the leadership of Lt. Col. Benjamin Bungoma of the DRC.
Within South Sudan, the force will deployed in Yambio and the nearby town of Nzara.
The official launch ceremony concluded with the presentation of AU insignia to Lt. Col. Bungoma and his colleagues Lt. Col, Adolph Dobigue from the Central African Republic, Col. Olum Dick of Uganda and Col. Gabriel Ayor Akuo of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.