Invisible Children Uganda is urging the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) to retain their resolve and stay in the Central African Republic.
Jolly Grace Akot, the regional ambassador Invisible Children, urged the army force to remain committed in their efforts to end the threat to civilians posed by Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Central and East Africa.
Akot was appearing before the defence and internal affairs committee together with Father Martini Modoue from the Diocese of Bangdssou in the Central African Republic.
They argue that they have credible reports suggesting that officials in both the Ugandan and American governments are considering a premature conclusion of their operations to counter the LRA.
These are part of a regional mission authorized by the African Union focused on protecting civilians and bringing the LRA leaders to justice.
Last week the Uganda and US governments suspended their counter LRA operations in Central African Republic after Selekta combatants overthrew the CAR government and took control of most of the country.
However, the Selekta leaders have yet to publicly indicate whether they will cooperate with the AU mission. They also want the Ugandan Government to talk to the new CAR government to continue hunting for Kony.
Akot notes that over the past three years, the operations against Kony has helped reduce killings of civilians by more than 90 percent and enabled dozens of LRA fighters and abductees to safely defect from the group. Last week alone 28 women and children were released from captivity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Invisible children fears that with no credible alternatives in place, a full withdrawal of Uganda and US forces during the highest times of the LRA conflict would put a permanent end to the crisis out of reach. It would also create a security vacuum in LRA affected areas of CAR and South Sudan where the forces are currently deployed.
The UPDF has been operating in CAR with US support since 2009. Last week the US offered a reward of 5 million US Dollars for information leading to the arrest or capture of Kony.
Efforts to get in touch with Lt Col Paddy Ankunda for a comment on the supposed UPDF withdrawal were futile since his phone was out of reach.
However, Simon Mulongo, the committee chairperson, insisted that the UPDF has not at any one time come out to say that they are withdrawing from CAR. He assured the Invisible children team of security so as to ease their movement and work in the war prone country.