CAR calls on US to help crush LRA

2010-07-05 16:37

Bangui - The Central African Republic has called on the United States for military support to help "neutralise" LRA rebels terrorising the country, state radio said on Monday.

Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army "have been on Central African territory since February 2008 when they were chased out of Uganda, and have been committing violations of all kinds and sowing terror among the population", it quoted Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi as saying.

Gambi made the comments in a speech at the US embassy in Bangui during a reception on Sunday marking US Independence Day.

"The danger the LRA represents for Uganda has been transposed to the Central African Republic. We hope that the United States of America can contribute to the efforts of the Central African armed forces, backed by the Ugandan forces, with the aim of neutralising the LRA," the minister said.

In May, US President Barack Obama promulgated a law to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians from LRA attacks in the four countries in which they have been active, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, south Sudan and the CAR.

The foreign minister said he hoped "that the American government will emphasise particularly the case of the Central African Republic", especially as it was a "post-conflict" country preparing to hold elections.

"The American government will understand the sense of this request, to allow the organisation of elections in Central Africa. Because one of the causes of the delay (in holding elections) is the persistent insecurity in Central Africa's regions."

After years of instability, the country has begun a peace process of which long-delayed presidential and legislative polls are an essential part. The electoral commission has proposed the elections be held on October 24, having already postponed them twice so far this year.