There is still uncertainty over whether the Lordâ€™s Resistance Armyâ€”LRA fighters in the Central African Republicâ€”CAR are defecting. Chinese news agency, Xinhua, on Sunday quoted a statement from the United Nations indicating that over 1200 fighters in CAR had contacted the UN with a plan to disarm and defect from Bria, near the border with Sudan.
Chinese news agency, Xinhua, on Sunday quoted a statement from the United Nations indicating that over 1200 fighters in CAR had contacted the UN with a plan to disarm and defect from Bria, which is 40kms from Nzoka near the border with Sudan.
The force initially believed to be LRA however has now raised doubts. Invisible Children, a charity organisation that has closely and monitored the LRA activities, says the reports of LRA’s defection might not be true. In a press statement, they say the preliminary reports they have received from CAR show no signs of a large defection of LRA soldiers. They also say the best estimates of LRA fighters believed to be in the CAR are 500 and not 1200 as the Xinhua report had indicated.
The UN has not yet released an official statement as to whether the contingent reportedly sent to meet the defectors in Bria, has reported back or disarmed the rebel fighters.
The LRA has been under immense pressure after the campaign to end their 26 year brutal rebellion was stepped up. NGOs have continuously distributed come-home messages and fliers containing messages from former top LRA commanders such as Caesar Acellam who was captured by the UPDF in May last year.
The UPDF and the US marines were also until recently sustaining the hunt for the LRA in the CAR, but stopped after the Seleka rebels overthrew the government in Bangui.
The army has however promised not to attack the defecting force and also offer safe passage for them to get supplies like food and clothing. General Katumba Wamala, the Chief of Defence Forces told the media in Kampala that the UPDF had been informed of the defection though they had not yet confirmed whether it was the LRA defecting.
The LRA has sustained 26 years of fighting that has seen it move from Uganda to four other countries including South Sudan, D R Congo, CAR and Sudan. LRA leader Joseph Kony and two of his top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court to answer to charges of War crimes and Crimes against Humanity. He is believed to be hiding in Kafia Kingi at the confluence between the CAR, Sudan and South Sudan borders.