Uganda is currently engaged in talks for the UPDF to join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic ((MINUSCA), to continue keeping a close eye on Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) .
Diplomatic sources familiar with the matter intimated to Sunday Monitor that the government “expressed willingness” and also sent the terms to the African Union Peace and Security Council, the standing organ of the 55 member continental body charged with prevention and resolution of conflicts, to further the discussions with the United Nations Security Council.
According to sources, government said UPDF will join the UN peacekeeping mission if its mandate has been revised and made robust “to engage in combat when necessary”.
“CAR is polarised like DR Congo, so the President doesn’t want the UPDF to join if they are going to sit around and wait for allowances like the case of the UN Missions in Congo and South Sudan where they are occasionally attacked but look on helplessly,” sources said.
It is estimated that half of CAR is neither under control of the government which is currently being reinforced by MINUSCA to build a security force (army and police) from scratch.
The revelation comes when the UPDF is currently in the process of withdrawing all troops involved in the hunt of the LRA in CAR. The UPDF was operating under auspices of the African Union Regional Task Force (RTF).
Former US president Barack Obama in October 2011 deployed about 100 special forces to help in the hunt for Kony and neutralise the LRA.
However, president Donald Trump’s administration early this year queried whether the LRA posed threat to any US interest and consequently the United States Africa Command has similarly announced withdrawal of US troops.
It is not yet clear whether the AU Peace and Security Council has already engaged the UN Security Council.
Following bouts of sectarian violence, that heightened in 2012, the UN Security Council in 2013 approved the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), the former French colony with a precise mandate of protecting civilians and other UN personnel, supporting a political transition, creation of security conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, promotion of national dialogue, supporting disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former armed elements, and helping in institution building for long-term socioeconomic recovery.
In September 2014, MISCA metamorphosed into MINUSCA, a UN peacekeeping mission, with a similar mandate for an initial period ending April 2015 but was extended in July last year to November 2017.
Currently, the Mission is comprised of 10,750 military personnel (including military observers and officers) and 2,080 police personnel drawn from Australia, Bangladesh, Armenia, Benin, Belarus, Bolivia, Belgium, Bosnia and Bhutan.
UPDF spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire confirmed the development but said “discussions on the matter are ongoing.”
The United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the second largest in the world and most costly, which is authorised to engage in limited combat against the many rebel outfits operating, especially in the eastern part of the country, has been cited as one of the biggest failures of UN’s peacekeeping missions to decisively deal with conflicts.
Similarly, the UN peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan has been slammed for failing to decisively act in the conflict between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the opposition leader Dr Riek Machar. President Museveni, has on numerous occasions scorned UN peacekeeping missions calling them “military tourism”.