Africa in the News: Central African Republic Sees Violence from Rebels and Possible Peace from LRA

Lord’s Resistance Army Considers Surrender

Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is in talks with the president of the Central African Republic (CAR), Michael Djotodia, and has suggested that the group is ready to surrender itself.  For decades, the group has terrorized the region of Central Africa, waged war against the government of Uganda, and kidnapped young people to transform them into child soldiers and sex slaves.  In recent years, the U.S. government has deployed a military force to assist in the capture of Kony, an effort which seems to have weakened the group. 

However, there is skepticism as to whether these discussions will ultimately pan out.  One U.S. State Department official has questioned whether the group currently in talks with CAR’s president actually speaks for Joseph Kony.  Other observers have argued that the group might simply be using this overture as a tactic to strengthen its capacity for future fighting, as it has done in the past.  If captured, it is possible that Kony will be tried by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, where he was indicted in 2005.  However, this issue could be a sticking point for the leader, as some reports suggest that the dropping of the charges and a guarantee of his security are preconditions for the surrender.

French Foreign Minister Warns of Possible Genocide in the CAR

Conditions in the Central African Republic continue to worsen in recent weeks.  According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, genocide—a result of escalating sectarian violence— is a very real possibility in the country.  The French have said it will send some 800 troops to the CAR, which will come in addition to the 400 stationed troops already there.  In addition, the U.N. Security Council is planning on voting for a bill in the next few days that would give greater legal backing to France and countries neighboring the CAR to intervene.  The violence has led to a humanitarian disaster, with more than a million people said to be food insecure and almost half a million internally displaced.