A Cabinet minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo says his administration will cooperate with U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration as Washington develops a comprehensive strategy to deal with the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels (LRA).
Information minister Lambert Mende said the government needs intelligence support in its effort to defeat the LRA rebels, who are accused of killing, mutilating and abducting unarmed Congolese in the northeastern part of the country.
“This is [a] situation we have been experiencing for a very long time, I think for 10 years. And, we are ending this situation because we have attacked the LRA one time together with our neighbors, the Ugandan army. But now, we are doing it ourselves and we are succeeding. I think a lot of them have fled to Central African Republic, others have met death during combat operations and their actions against our people and against our army are reducing these days,” he said.
In its latest report, the Washington-based Enough Project documented 51 attacks by the LRA in Bas Uele, Congo, resulting in at least 105 deaths and 570 abductions during the last 15 months.
The report also said the LRA rebels have used Bas Uele territory region (northeastern Congo) as a base and transit point to the Central Africa Republic and beyond.
It also stated that the threat against unarmed Congolese civilians is increasing, since there is no meaningful military force to challenge the LRA in the area.
“The Congolese army remains a threat to its own population, and the United Nations is drawing down its peacekeepers in this region,” the report said.
Information Minister Mende said his government needs help to fight the rebels.
“We welcome this move positively because we needed really to be assisted with all the wars, as not only Congo [is] under threat by those people [rebels] but also Uganda, Central Africa Republic and southern Sudan. So, we need people to assist,” Mende said.
The LRA rebels originally began their insurgency in northern Uganda, but the group is believed to have killed, mutilated, and displaced thousands of civilians across central Africa for more than two decades.
The rebels abduct thousands of children and turn them into child soldiers.