By Raymond Baguma
Uganda is ready to offer troops as part of a proposed UN African peacekeeping force to be deployed in Central African Republic (CAR) to restore stability there.
Last week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution to consider deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in CAR. The 15-member council voted for a resolution urging UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to prepare a report in 30 days on strengthening the African force in CAR.
Presently, countries from the Economic Community of Central African States are maintaining troops under the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in CAR (MICOPAX). AU plans to convert the forces into a larger peacekeeping mission to stabilize the country. The Security Council could also consider the option of transforming this AU mission into a UN operation.
But presently, Ugandan troops are operating in CAR under the AU-authorized Regional Taskforce to hunt for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leaders who remain a regional threat.
The UPDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said in a phone interview that Uganda should be able to participate if the country is approached since its troops are in CAR in pursuit of Ugandan rebels.
He added, “This is a new framework. But we are more or less the most active and reliable troop contributing country in CAR.”
The AU regional taskforce was initially supposed to include 5,000 troops from the LRA-affected countries of South Sudan, Uganda, DR Congo and CAR.
To this taskforce, Uganda contributes the bulk of over 2,000 troops while the other countries which include CAR, DR Congo and South Sudan are beset with domestic security challenges.
The Seleka junta, a grouping of five rebel movements led by Michel Djotodia overthrew President Francois Bozize in March this year. Under a deal brokered by the AU, the Seleka interim authority is due to organize elections in CAR.
CAR is faced with widespread instability with the Bangui-based Seleka junta unable to have effective control of security. According to the UN, some 300,000 people are internally displaced while others have fled to neighboring countries.