This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
The AU said that RTF is mandated to carry out three tasks backed by the United States, European Union, the United Nations Security Council together with the four countries the LRA is assumed to be operating in; Uganda, South Sudan, DRC and Central African Republic (CAR).
Dr. Riek Machar (South Sudan Vice President) who officially launched the military operation of the RTF reiterated South Sudan’s efforts to cooperate with the AU’s RTF but decried of poor infrastructure that may hindering the RTF’s operation.
“In order to support the RTF we must put into consideration opening up roads…Kony will be cornered and therefore the military operations will have chances of succeeding,” Machar said.
“With the deployment of the RTF, the Commander and his Deputy as well as the Chief and the Deputy at the joint operation center, Yambio (Headquarters in South Sudan), the AU is now ready to begin operation and put pressure on the LRA,” the AU Special Envoy in-charge of the RTF Ambassador Francisco Madeira said during the launch.
“The mission of the RTF is to eliminate LRA. These includes neutralizing, capturing, arresting or forcing Mr. Joseph Kony (the leader of the LRA) to surrender and his two indicted commanders; Okot Odiambo and Dominic Ogwen,” Madeira said.
Madeira explained that the 5,000 troops that will operate in three main sub-headquarters; Bungu in DRC, Obo in CAR and Nzara in South Sudan with a general headquarters in Yambio, is a new regional force contributed by the four countries; Uganda, DRC, Central African Republic and South Sudan (SS) who are affected by the activities of the LRA.
“Prior to his start-up in 1987 to 2006, Kony narrowly escaped being captured by a joint operation launched by Uganda, South Sudan and DRC in 2009 known as “Thunder”. The LRA is estimated to have abducted at least 20,000 Ugandan children, displaced more than 1.9 million people and killed thousands,” Madeira said.
Prior to fruitless mediated peace talks between Kony and the Ugandan government by the South Sudanese Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar that ended in 2008, Madeira said some 2,600 civilians now have been killed in the region, more than 4,000 others abducted and over 400,000 people were displaced in DRC, South Sudan and CAR by the LRA.
Christopher J. Datta, Charge d’Affaires at the United States of America (USA) Embassy in South Sudan pointed out the USA’s role of continued support to the AU in order to ensure the arrest of Kony and brought to Justice.
“Enough is enough. The USA is proud to be able to contribute to the support of the AU,” Datta said while defining Kony as “monster” but a “clever man”. He called for the cooperation of all the partners to ensure an end to the LRA insurgency in the region. “Divided we fail united we will succeed,” he stressed.
Isaac Mamur, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Deputy Chief of Staff for Moral Orientation said without fighting Kony’s supporter who funds his activities, fighting him alone will not bring a quick solution.
“One important thing that will hinder this operation is the men behind supporting Kony,” Mamur said.
However, Madeira pointed out that, AU is approaching the hunting down of Kony in all angles; militarily, socially and humanitarian approach to ensure his insurgency is brought to rest.